On March 9, 2021 U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Usha E. Pitts participated in the official handing-over ceremony of the BioFire FilmArray Torch infectious disease diagnostic machine. Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau, the largest public health facility in The Bahamas, has installed the BioFire machine in its laboratory to aid in combating the spread of COVID-19.
The BioFire (valued at around $80,000 USD) can provide a PCR test result—the most accurate test for COVID-19—in about one hour, and can also diagnose other lower respiratory tract infections, making it a valuable asset in disease prevention and pandemic response in The Bahamas for years to come.
Touching on the close partnership between the United States and The Bahamas, Chargé Pitts noted that today’s donation was “exemplary of our friendship and of our relationship,” and that U.S. President Biden “understands that we have to support our partners in every way possible.” Chargé Pitts closed by thanking the Ministry of Health for their commendable work to control the COVID-19 pandemic in The Bahamas. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan officially received the donation on behalf of the Ministry of Health.
Chargé Pitts also highlighted that the donation of the BioFire equipment is just one part of a larger U.S. government grant of $750,000 to The Bahamas through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Bahamas Red Cross Society (BRCS) and the International Federation of the Red Cross have administered the grant since late 2020, providing critical supplies and support to the country’s healthcare workforce and schools in New Providence.
BRCS President Tezza Curry thanked the United States for their support, saying “we are optimistic that with contributions like this one from the U.S. Government, that we will be able to eventually overcome” the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $750,000 USAID grant is itself just one of several ways the United States has assisted the Bahamian government in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, U.S. Northern Command provided $3.6 million to support disaster relief and resilience; the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement committed $5 million to address COVID-19 related citizen security initiatives; and the Embassy has put The Bahamas in contact with U.S. pharmaceutical companies and is sharing important lessons on vaccine distribution with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.