Chinese team arrives to deliver eye care to Jamaicans

Fan Jianjong (standing fourth from left), counsellor for economic and commercial affairs at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Jamaica; Dr Natalie Whylie (standing at centre), Senior Medical Officer at the Kingston Public Hospital; Dr Beverley Wright (standing third from right), of the Ministry of Health; and Yao Yao (standing second from right), of the Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Jamaica, are on hand to greet members of the Chinese technical team at the Pegasus Hotel on Wednesday night.

Members of the Chinese technical team of five opthalmologists, three nurses, two engineers, and one technician have arrived on the island to perform some 500 cataract surgeries on Jamaicans in need, as part of their Bright Journey Eye Care Mission.

The team, which will work from the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) until the end of April, arrived on Wednesday.

“We welcome the Chinese team to Jamaica. They have seen a need and agreed to help us to fill that need. This particular area of eye care, as I have said before, is an undeserved area in Jamaica and so we are very happy to have the support,” said Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton.

Ambassador Tian Qi said that the people and Government of China were happy to provide the assistance.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dunstan Bryan (left) and Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica Tian Qi ink the Memorandum of Understanding for the Bright Journey Eye Care Mission to Jamaica, at the head office of the Ministry of Health on March 14.

“The Bright Journey Eye Care Mission is a gift of goodwill from the People and Government of China to the people and Government of Jamaica. It will not only brighten the Jamaican patients’ eyesight, but also make the China-Jamaica partnership for common development even brighter,” he said.

Bright Journey’s visit to Jamaica this year is their second. In May 2015, more than 200 Jamaicans benefitted from free cataract surgeries at the KPH while the hospital was gifted medical equipment and supplies to the tune of US$400,000.

On this occasion, in addition to the 500 cataract surgeries to be performed, the KPH will receive additional equipment and supplies, valued at RMB 2,825,236.18. Also to form part of the work of the Mission is knowledge exchange.

The Chinese Government has been sending medical teams to developing countries since 1963. In the Caribbean, the Bright Journey Project is part of a commitment made by Chinese President Xi Jinping, to expand public health co-operation with Caribbean countries, during his meeting with CARICOM leaders in Trinidad and Tobago in June, 2013.

In 2015, it was reported that from 2003, China’s Bright Journey project had benefitted close to 300 million eye patients in more than 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Oceania.