KINGSTON, Jamaica, December 22, 2018 (CMC) – Jamaica and Cuba have extended an agreement program that will allow nationals, here, to benefit from eye care services, provided by Cuban health professionals, for another six months.
Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, and Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Inés Fors Fernández, signed the documents, on Thursday.
The bilateral agreement, first signed in 2009, provided for the establishment of an Ophthalmology Centre, to treat Jamaican and other Caribbean nations with eye conditions, and for implementation of the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme in 2010.
On December 2015, an agreement was signed by the two governments to extend the project for a further three years.
Tufton said the six-month extension provides the opportunity to ensure continuity in the provision of care, as provided for, under the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme, “even as we assess current needs and determine the best course for a successor agreement.
“There is no question of the value that the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme has brought to the people of Jamaica. Operated from three principal locations – Kingston School of Nursing, National Chest Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital — patients are provided with care, prior to and subsequent to surgery, along with treatment of diabetic retinopathy and anterior segment laser, in addition to cataract and pterygium. Patients also benefit from laboratory, optometry, clinical and ophthalmic services,” he said.
The Health Minister noted that 2,695 surgeries have been performed, in this year alone, including 1,253 diabetic retinopathy laser procedures; 854 cataract surgeries; 409 pterygium surgeries; and 179 anterior segment laser procedures.
“This is thanks to the excellent team of Cuban professionals, with whom Jamaica has been provided over time. The program welcomed the fourth Cuban Medical Brigade in June this year, comprised of 18 personnel,” he noted.
“There is no question that the program has achieved success in what it set out to do, which is to provide safe, clinically-sound and cost-effective services in ophthalmology; to improve the quality of life of adults accessing the program, through the improvement of their eyesight; and to promote a healthier lifestyle in order to improve eye health,” Tufton said.
The Cuban Ambassador, for her part, said health is a very important area of cooperation between the countries, noting that currently, there are about 291 Cuban health professionals working in four regions of Jamaica.