JIS News

Come September, Jamaicans, who suffer from severe eye problems, will be able to access treatment in Cuba or Venezuela free of cost under the Cuba/Venezuela ‘Sandino Commitment’.
Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, who made the disclosure at a press briefing held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Rose Hall early Wednesday morning (Aug. 24), said that the initiative was part of a larger thrust, to offer free health care to 6 million inhabitants of Latin America and the Caribbean over the next 20 years. The ‘Sandino Commitment’ was reached during President Chavez’s visit to Cuba on the weekend.
The Venezuelan President urged all Latin American and Caribbean citizens with eye problems, but were unable to afford surgery, to take advantage of the facility. “They can undergo operations free of charge and to that end, they can go immediately to all the embassies of Cuba and Venezuela in the region to look for help,” he informed.
President Chavez said the offer was also being extended to United States citizens, and those who wish to benefit could contact the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington.
Explaining the process for receiving assistance, President Chavez said an evaluation to assess the seriousness of the eye problem would be conducted at the respective embassies and from where, individuals would be sent to Caracas or Havana, where trained doctors would conduct the operation using state of the art equipment. He noted that once the operation was complete, individuals would be sent back to their countries.
“You won’t have to pay a single cent for these surgeries,” he emphasized.
On a daily basis 1,500 Venezuelans with severe eye problems including tumors are operated on in Cuba, with some 100,000 nationals to undergo surgeries in that country this year.
President Chavez noted that under the initiative, some 60,000 Colombians could receive aid annually, in addition to 20,000 Bolivarians and 30,000 Ecuadorians. He said that discussions were being held to send 12,000 Panamanians to Cuba for treatment.
In the meantime, he noted that given that the poor of the world including those in the United States, were unable to access quality medical attention, the Cuban President and himself had decided to train some 200,000 doctors to attend to the health of the poor.
This will be done within the framework of the Bolivarian Alternative for the America’s (ALBA).”We have started already,” he said, noting that recently in Cuba, the first 1,600 doctors had graduated under the programme.
President Chavez further announced an initiative to make all of Latin America literate within the next 10 years. He pointed out that in less than two years, 1.5 million individuals, who were unable to read and write, had been taught to do so in Venezuela. “Today Cuba and Venezuela have the capability to teach to read and write all the illiterate people in this hemisphere”, President Chavez said.
He noted however, that the achievement of all these goals required the cooperation of the authorities in the Latin American and Caribbean region.