JIS News

The 15-member Cuban health team which is here to work under the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme, met the Jamaican health team at the Ministry of Health in downtown Kingston on Thursday (January 21).
The Cubans have been in Jamaica for the past two weeks, ahead of the official launch of the Ophthalmology Centre, at the St. Joseph’s Hospital, Kingston, which was established as part of the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Agreement.
The Centre, which will be launched on Wednesday (January 27), will accommodate Jamaican and other CARICOM nationals in need of free eye care services.
Minister of Health, Hon Rudyard Spencer, welcomed the Cuban team, saying Jamaica was “extremely grateful” for the assistance from its Spanish-speaking neighbour. He assured the Cubans that the Ministry would ensure their comfort and a rich and rewarding experience.
Mr. Spencer also noted that this initiative would strengthen the relationship between Jamaica and Cuba.
Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, said that, under the programme, 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 the technical staff, equipment, medicines and other inputs.
The conditions to be treated are: cataracts, opacity of the lens; pterygium, the fleshy growth over the eye; and diabetic retinography, which is damage to the back of the eye, or excessive blood vessel growth from uncontrolled diabetes.
Jamaicans will be selected for the programme through referrals from Government of Jamaica facilities, or through community screenings conducted under the programme. Patients from other CARICOM countries will access the programme through referrals directed through the Ministry’s head office.
The eye care service initially saw about 1,000 persons per year going to Cuba for surgeries, however, the Centre will allow for the treatment of 5,000 patients per year. Persons treated at the centre will also be able to receive post operative care and emergency medical care at the National Chest Hospital and the Kingston Public Hospital.
The programme 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 Centre.
Dr. Campbell Forrester also noted that there would be ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the programme as it progresses.
Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Yuri Gala Lopez, said it was an honour for his country to contribute to the well-being of Jamaicans, and that the team was anxious to get started.

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