JIS News

Some 86 Jamaicans with eye disorders will depart the island for Cuba on February 19, to receive treatment under the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme.
The first batch of patients to benefit from the programme since the start of the year, they are expected to receive treatment for conditions ranging from retinitis pigmentosa, cataract, congenital cataract, strabismus (cast eye) to tumors.
Speaking to JIS News in an interview, Liaison Officer for the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme based at the Jamaican Embassy in Cuba, Delita McCallum, said the programme has been re-organized and patients will now depart on flights every 21 days as opposed to the previous weekly arrangement. These flights leave either on a Tuesday or Saturday.
“This now gives enough time for better planning because as you can imagine, moving patients from one country to another is not really an easy have to account for each patient making sure that their records have been prepared before departure and after treatment and also provide individual attention,” she pointed out.
The Liaison Officer also noted that with one flight leaving a month, there was more time for post operative care while the patient is in Cuba. “When the patient returns to Jamaica and for any reason misses a post operative visit, at least there will be some sort of guarantee that the patient has received some sort of post operative care in Cuba,” she explained.
She was however quick to stress that despite this bonus of the new arrangement, it is imperative that returning patients still visit their doctors at the appointed time.
“We provide a discharge certificate, which tells the patient the date to visit their doctor as we work closely with Jamaican ophthalmologists as well in post operative care at the Kingston Public Hospital,” Ms. McCallum informed.
Commenting on the importance of the programme to the poor, Ms. McCallum said that some 5,000 surgeries have been performed on Jamaicans alone, while overall a million procedures have been performed under the programme. Pertaining to the rest of the Caribbean, Guyana has the largest numbers benefitting, with some 6,000 surgeries performed, while 4,000 Surinamese have benefited. Haiti, St. Lucia and St. Vincent also have a great demand for treatment.
“The number of persons across the world benefitting from the programme speaks volumes about how many would have lost their vision otherwise,” she argued.
Indeed, the programme extends beyond borders to include not only the people of CARICOM, but also Cuban staffed and equipped Ophthalmology Centres in Mali, Haiti and China.

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