A team of 35 Cuban nurses arrived in the island on January 12 to take up various positions within the health sector.
The nurses, specialising in paediatrics, neonatal, and intensive care, as well as operating theatre and eye care nurses, are to be deployed in the primary health care system across the four regional authorities.
Speaking at a welcoming ceremony for the nurses at the VIP room at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, explained that they were the first batch of a group of 51, who were recruited in June last year under a new bilateral agreement between the Governments of Jamaica and Cuba to train and supply critical health workers for the local sector. The others will arrive in April.
“We signed two agreements in July 2009, one which led to the development of the Eye Care Centre located at St. Joseph’s Hospital and the other which would see health specialists from Cuba supporting our public health care system,” he stated.
He further informed that the Ministry has also gone into an arrangement with Cuba to offer clinical experience to personnel being trained as nephrology nurses to support the dialysis programme. Eleven nurses and their educators are expected to leave Jamaica next Wednesday (January 19) for one week, to gain this experience in Cuba.
Support is also being provided from Cuba to enhance the Ministry’s capacity for bio-medical engineering.
“In a matter of weeks, we expect the biomedical technicians from Cuba to carry out a review as part of our plans for the maintenance of at least 200 pieces of equipment to put back into the system. The review is the first phase of the work. The next phase is to carry out the actual maintenance, which is valued at approximately $49 million,” Minister Spencer informed.
He said that at the end of this month, a team from the Ministry will be travelling to Cuba to, among other things, finalise the bio-medical services contract, have discussions on the recruitment of new medical staff and the supply of pharmaceuticals, as well as to meet the country’s new Health Minister.
Minster Spencer said that going forward, Jamaica is interested in attracting from Cuba, physicians, biomedical engineers and technicians, paramedicals, nurse educators, dental mechanical engineers and dental nurses, and air conditioning and refrigeration technicians and electro mechanical engineers.
Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Yuri Gala Lopez, said that the arrival of the nurses is another example of the active programme of co-operation between Jamaica and Cuba in the field of health.
“The dynamism of the programme of co-operation is reflected in the fact that with the arrival of this team, there are now over 135 Cuban health care specialists serving in Jamaica,” he said.
He said that Cuba was committed to continue strengthening its ties of friendship and co-operation with Jamaica, noting that “we hope to continue increasing our co-operation.”
Responding on behalf of the nurses, Ana Iris, said that they were happy to be in Jamaica and were looking forward to offering their services within the different public health institutions.