The Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Health & Wellness, has signed a letter of intent
for a technical cooperation agreement with the Cuban Government 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 Christopher Tufton and Dr José
Angel Portal Miranda, minister of public health of Cuba, 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,” Tufton said.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
According to Tufton, the Jamaica-Cuba cooperation reflects Cuba’s commitment to serving public health as a public good.
“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 Bruce Golding, then prime minister of Jamaica, and Yuri Gala Lopez, then Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica.
Between 2010 and 2019, more than 35,000 patients were examined.
Of that number:
• 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.