Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has hailed the Cuban Government for its strong commitment to the advancement of the region and the developing world in general.
“Cuba, like Jamaica, has been a strong supporter of the integration of the region through the established mechanism of the Cuba-Caribbean Community Summit. Time after time, Cuba has asserted herself as a champion of solidarity and South-South co-operation,” Dr. Baugh stated.
He was addressing a reception held last Friday (Jan. 8) at the Kingston residence of new Cuban Ambassador, Yuri Gala Lopez, to mark National Day of Cuba and the 51st anniversary of the Cuban revolution.
The Foreign Affairs Minister also re-affirmed Jamaica’s commitment to the strengthening of relations between both countries, which spans some 37 years, and the development of future endeavours.
He hailed the planned opening of a specialist ophthalmology centre in Kingston later this month, which will be operated by eye care professionals from the Spanish-speaking country, as a welcomed move. He said the facility offers “untold hope” to many Jamaicans with eye problems.
“The Government looks forward to the opening of the centre this month as it will provide invaluable assistance, not only to Jamaicans, but to other Caribbean nationals, who will come here to benefit from the treatment,” Dr. Baugh stated.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh (left) and Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Yuri Gala Lopez (right), listen to a comment from Opposition Spokesman on Energy, Phillip Paulwell. Occasion was a reception held on Friday, January 8 at Ambassador Lopez’s Kingston residence to celebrate Cuba’s National Day.
Minster of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, in July, signed an agreement with then Cuban Ambassador, Gisela Garcia Rivera, to establish the eye care centre at St Joseph’s Hospital, which will provide ophthalmology services for the English-speaking Caribbean under the Cuba Eye Care Project.
The Cuban Government will equip the centre and provide specialist eye care staff for three years, while Jamaica will provide the Cubans with accommodation, travel and meals. The Cuban team will also be training teams of Jamaicans to operate the centres at a later date, as part of their mandate.
In late December, newly refurbished residences were opened at the National Chest Hospital to accommodate the medical team, and patients who undergo surgery.
Ambassador Gala Lopez, for his part, pledged his Government’s continued assistance to developing nations, mainly in the fields of health and education. He said 2009 was a year in which the friendly and co-operative ties between Cuba and Jamaica were strengthened.
“Nearly 300 Jamaican youths are now studying in Cuban universities free of charge, while in Jamaica, 135 Cuban co-operators are presently supporting several bilateral programmes, especially in the health and education fields,” he stated.
Since the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Project began four years ago, some 20,000 Jamaicans have been screened, while more than 4,000 surgeries have been performed. These patients receive treatment for four major conditions – Cataract, Pterygium, Strabismus (crossed eyes) and Ptosis also known as drooping of the upper eyelid.