Jamaica, Cuba to renew technical cooperation agreements

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton and Minister of Public Health of Cuba, Dr. José Angel Portal Miranda shake hands following the signing of the letters of intent.

• Eye care programme to resume, medical pros coming

The Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Health & Wellness, has signed a letter of intent for a technical cooperation agreement with the Government of the Republic of Cuba for the continued provision of a medical brigade of health professionals to Jamaica.

A similar letter was signed for the renewal of an agreement for the operation of an Ophthalmology Centre, which has, over the years, facilitated greater access to high-quality and timely vision and eye health services for Jamaicans.

The signing was done by Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton and the Minister of Public Health of Cuba, Dr. José Angel Portal Miranda on the sidelines of the IV International Convention “Cuba Salud” 2022, held in Havana, Cuba.

“Thank you Minister, on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, for this signing for two very important agreements. The first is the continuation of the medical brigade that comes to Jamaica, primarily nurses who are very important to helping our local nurses to treat Jamaicans who need help in our public hospitals. The second is eye care, a long-term agreement which had to be suspended, primarily because of COVID,” Dr. Tufton noted.

“I am very excited about the second agreement because we intend, hopefully, to expand the services, not just to the curative measures, but also to prevention in our schools,” the Minister added.

According to Dr. Tufton, the Jamaica/Cuba cooperation reflect Cuba’s commitment to serving public health as a public good.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton with Jamaican students Yanique Uter and Nika-Lee Page during a tour of the Universidad Ciencias Medicas de la Habana in Cuba this past week.

“I want to commend you and the people and the government and the leadership of the Republic of Cuba for this tradition, a tradition that we in Jamaica appreciate and have benefitted from and which I believe the world has benefitted from,” he said.

In response, the Cuban health minister noted that Jamaica would continue to enjoy his country’s support.

“These two letters of intent will help us to deepen even more the relationship of our two countries. You can always count on the solidarity of the Cuban people,” he added.

The letters of intent lay the foundation for the negotiation and implementation of the full terms of the technical cooperation agreements.

The first Bilateral Agreement of Cooperation for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence was signed between the Governments of Jamaica and Cuba on July 28, 2009. On January 10, 2010, Jamaica welcomed the first of four medical brigades from Cuba, who were entrusted to provide eye care services to the people of Jamaica.

The Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme was launched on January 27, 2010, with the official opening of the Ophthalmology Centre by the Hon. O. Bruce Golding, then Prime Minister of Jamaica, and His Excellency Yuri Gala Lopez, then Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica.

Between 2010 and 2019, more than 35,000 patients were examined.
• 8,491 had laser therapy for Diabetic Retinopathy;
• 8,837 had cataract surgery; and
• 4,084 had Ptergium Surgery.
At least 17,000 persons have had avoidable blindness averted through the programme.

The cooperation agreements have, over time, also allowed for the interweaving of Cuban medical professionals into all levels of Jamaica’s health system, helping to ensure the best possible health outcomes for patients.