Minster of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton today (March 21) welcomed 140 health care professionals including 90 specialist nurses, which will help to bolster the country’s frontline staff in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The team from Cuba which was met by the Minister on their arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, also comprise of 46 doctors and three therapist.
Among the nurses are those that specialize in medical surgeries, emergency and critical care. Members of the team will be deployed across the island.
In his remarks, Dr. Tufton said the health care professionals will be quarantined for 14 days, as is the protocol.
“They will be deployed in various capacities to ensure that the frontline is bolstered and strengthened to deal with the eventualities that we will have to confront and that I hope will, therefore, minimise the impact and help us to overcome the challenges quickly and by extension recover,” he stated.
The Minister also credited the team from the Ministry who exercised forward-thinking and worked assiduously with the Cuban Embassy to ensure that the medical team arrived in the island quickly.
“I have a world-class team in terms of public health personnel and leadership because we anticipated that the day would come when we would need these persons from early in the day, from as far back as a month and a half ago,” he pointed out while adding that an assessment of the specialists who were needed was done and a request was made.
Dr. Tufton while expressing gratitude for the team on behalf of Jamaican people also thanked the Cuban Government and the Cuban Ambassador, Her Excellency Inés Fors Fernández, who was very instrumental in ensuring that the request was honoured.
“As you know we have a long-standing relationship with Cuba and the Cuban Government in the area of medicine. We have the Cuban Eyecare Programme and we have over 300 Cuban healthcare professionals who are here already and they provide significant value to our public health system and that has been a longstanding tradition,” he said.
“So today what you are witnessing is a continuation of that friendship and relationship and in the time of crisis, this emergency that we have COVID-19, the Cuban Government, the Cuban people through [the] Ambassador have risen, and they have heard our appeal and have responded and we are very elated,” the Minister added.
Both the Chairman of the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee hospitals, Dr. Stephanie Reid and the Chief Nursing Officer in Jamaica, Patricia Ingram Martin expressed gratitude for the medical team and the support that will be given to the health system.
“With respect to the doctors, we have a number of doctors coming in who are trained in primary care who will be [at] our health centres. This will be particularly important at this time because we expect to have a greater demand on the health centres and on the health system so we are particularly elated and we are particularly grateful,” Dr. Reid said.
For her part, Mrs. Ingram Martin said the nursing fraternity in Jamaica is very delighted to have this level of support at this time.
“We were pressured before but with what is happening with COVID-19 we know there is the potential for us to be even more overwhelmed. So with these persons coming in to assist, it will greatly put a lot of stress off the system in terms of workforce,” she said.
Meanwhile, Her Excellency Inés Fors Fernández, said Cuba is “here support the Jamaican people”.