Hundreds to Benefit from Jamaica, China Eye Care partnership

Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton (right) in discussion with Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica Tian Qi during the visit of the Bright Journey Medical Mission team last week.

Hundreds of Jamaicans are to benefit from cataract surgery later this year, thanks to the Chinese Bright Journey Medical Mission.

The revelation was made when the mission team – comprised of representatives from the Beijing Friendship and Tongren hospitals, and the Beijing Health and Family Planning Commission, together with Chinese Ambassador Tian Qi – made a courtesy call on Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton at the Ministry of Health in Kingston last week.

“We are very pleased that you have identified a need here in Jamaica and have agreed to contribute to addressing that need. This particular area of eye care is an undeserved area in Jamaica and so we are very happy to have the support,” Tufton told the Chinese team.

“We are big on partnerships in Jamaica and public health requires partnerships. No one country will have all the solutions, and the partnerships in health, between ourselves and China, have increased and are increasing,” the Minister added, noting that a group of 18 Jamaican nurses and five of their tutors are now in China for clinical training.

Ambassador Tian said the Chinese Government were happy to provide the support and are, in fact, keen on exploring new avenues for collaboration with Jamaica.

“I think our cooperation in health is very important. We are ready to do more in the interest of the people,” he noted.

Bright Journey’s visit to the island later this year will be their second. In May 2015, more than 200 Jamaicans benefitted from free cataract surgeries at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) while the hospital was gifted medical equipment and supplies to the tune of US$400,000.

The Chinese Government has been sending medical teams to developing countries since 1963. In the Caribbean, Bright Journey 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.

The 2015 mission helped the Government of Jamaica to increase access to quality eye health care. The backlog of patients needing treatment was relieved and the donated medical equipment and supplies helped the local team to reduce risks when performing cataract surgeries.

On this upcoming mission, in addition to more than doubling the number of persons served and to, once again, donate equipment and supplies, there are also plans to conduct training with Jamaican health care professions.