A 15-member Cuban health team has traveled to Jamaica to work under the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme. The team will work with a Jamaican health team as part of the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Agreement. On January 27 there will be an official launch for the Ophthalmology Centre, at the St. Joseph’s Hospital, Kingston, which was established as part of this partnership.
The center will accommodate Jamaican and other CARICOM nationals in need of free eye care services. The eye care service initially saw about 1,000 persons per year going to Cuba for surgeries, however, the center will allow for the treatment of 5,000 patients per year. The program is expected to run for three years, after which it is projected that enough Jamaican medical personnel will be trained to take over the operation of the center.
Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, explained that Jamaica would be responsible for providing the medical facilities, support, administrative and medical staff, disposables, accommodation, meals, transportation, and medical care for the Cuban team. Cuba will provide equipment, medicines, and the technical staff for medical procedures for conditions such as cataracts, or opacity of the lens; pterygium, a fleshy growth over the eye; diabetic retinography, which may be damage to the back of the eye or excessive blood vessel growth from uncontrolled diabetes; and others.
Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Yuri Gala López, stated that it is an honor for Cuba to contribute to the well-being of Jamaicans, and that the team was anxious to get started. Jamaica’s Minister of Health, the Honorable Rudyard Spencer welcomed the Cuban team and said that Jamaica is “extremely grateful” for the assistance from its Spanish-speaking neighbor.
Throughout the years, teams of Cuban ophthalmologists have worked in various Caribbean countries in similar capacities. Cuba has also extended scholarships to students who want to pursue degrees in medicine.
Photo of Cuban doctor working in a Guyana clinic from http://www.gina.gov.gy/archive/daily/b050811.htm