Today I am happy to join the Cuban Ambassador, His Excellency Bernardo Hernandez in the signing of two documents:
- Technical Cooperation Agreement Between the Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Cuba and the Ministry of Health of Jamaica.
- Agreement on Cooperation between the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Cuba and the Ministry of Health of Jamaica for the functioning of an Ophthalmology Centre.
Jamaica and Cuban has had 43 years of diplomatic relations and continue to enjoy a very strong relationship in several areas.
Cuba is known worldwide for its expertise in the area of health and the bond that we share has allowed us to tap into this important resource to further the country’s health objectives and improve the health of our people.
The Technical Cooperation agreement under which this has been made possible has seen several Cuban health workers coming to Jamaica and making important contribution to the health sector.
Our decision to seek assistance from Cuba was borne out of knowledge of the excellence public health system that exists in that country and the vast resource in terms of a cadre of highly trained, highly skilled and knowledgeable health care workers with experience in various areas of health care delivery across several levels.
There are currently seventy-one (71) Cuban professionals working in Jamaica, fifty-three (53) of which are from the Jamaica-Cuba Technical Agreement and eighteen (18) of which are under the Eye Care Programme partnership.
Of the 71 Cuban professionals in the island 27 are doctors, 36 are nurses and 8 are professional technologists.
Some of the areas in which they are engaged include:
- Primary health care
On July 28, 2009 the first Bilateral Agreement of Cooperation for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence was signed between the Jamaican and Cuban Governments. Out of that came the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Centre which was officially opened in 2010.
The Centre has served us well. Many Jamaicans have benefitted from surgeries and have gotten back the gift of sight in many cases.
Since its inception, the Ophthalmology Centre has received in excess of 78,000 visits.
More than 24,000 persons have been screened and more than 9,842 procedures done- all in Jamaica. These procedures are broken down as follows:
- Cataract surgery- 4070
- Pterygium surgery- 2536
- Laser Treatments – 3208
- Others- 28
The year 2015 has so far been a record year for the programme. Not only has total number of procedures exceed that of any single year prior, the programme has for the first time passed the mark of 1000 cataract surgeries, doing so in only six months.
Our partnership in health with Cuba over the years has been extremely beneficial and we look forward to continuing to work with the Government and people of Cuba in the future.