Jamaica and Cuba health pact

Kingston, Jamaica, June 30, 2006 – The Government is seeking to further strengthen its relationship and co-operation with Cuba in the field of health.

This was stated by Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, during a meeting with Cuban counterpart, Dr. Jose Ramón Balaguer Caberra, on June 17 in Cuba.

“Over the years we have had a strong relationship and bond with the Cuban people .and certainly the most important field of co-operation is in the field of health,” he told the Cuban Minister of Public Health.

A number of issues were raised at the meeting. Among them was the need for more scholarships from Cuba in the medical, dental, engineering and agricultural areas, in addition to post-graduate opportunities in the field of ophthalmology.

A request was also made by the Minister for some 50 Cuban doctors to be sent to Jamaica. “There are thousands of poor people in Jamaica who would like to see a doctor in their rural health centres at least once a week and we do not have enough persons to do that, so we are hoping to get a group of doctors from Cuba,” Minister Dalley said.

High on the agenda also was the need for two additional ophthalmologists, which would increase the complement in Jamaica to four, from Cuba.

“I am expecting two more Cuban ophthalmologists in Jamaica soon. They will work alongside Jamaican ophthalmologists at the eye centres at the Mandeville, Cornwall Regional and Kingston Public Hospitals,” he informed.

An increase in the cadre of nurses from Cuba was also on the wish list of the Minister, as there was always a need for more in the health sector.

Incidentally, while he was on tour of the Cuban Institute of Ophthalmology, Ramón Pando Ferrer, the previous day, he met with nurse Julianis Lages, who worked at the KPH eye clinic for three years before returning home in April.

Mr. Dalley has also extended an invitation for the Head of the Ophthalmology Service at the University Hospital at Cienfuegos, Dr. Jinez Zamora Galindo, to visit Jamaica for two weeks.

For his part, the Cuban Minister said that Cuba was committed to blazing trails in the field of health, sharing its medical expertise through its 23,000 doctors in 63 countries.

He also said that so far, 300,000 persons have benefited from the Mission Milagro programme, under which the Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care Programme falls. Some 24 hospitals in Cuba are involved in the project. (JIS)