Cuban eye care programme going strong
PETERSFIELD, Westmoreland — CUBAN Ambassador to Jamaica Yuri Gala Lopez says more than 400 Jamaican patients have undergone free eye surgery under the Cuban eye care programme since the start of the year.
According to Lopez, last year more than 1200 persons underwent surgeries during the programme.
The main eye-operating centre located at St Joseph's Hospital in eastern Kingston was established last year with Cuban technology and personnel.
"As part of the 'Miracle Operation', in January 2010, a new Ophthalmology Centre fitted with equipment and specialised personnel provided by Cuba was opened. At the end of the year, the centre performed more than 1200 surgeries to Jamaican patients who got this service free of charge... This year, they have performed over 400 so far," Lopez declared.
Formerly, Jamaicans and others from around the Caribbean visited Cuba to have surgeries done, but a shift in policy by Cuba in 2009 resulted in the setting up of several offshore centres, mainly to eradicate the high cost of travel and other expenses.
Additionally, the Cuban envoy noted that as part of a bilateral scholarship programme between the two neigbouring countries 250 Jamaicans are now studying in Cuban universities.
As part of the link, more than 150 Cuban specialists are currently working in Jamaica, especially in the health and education sectors.
The Cuban envoy said efforts are being made to further strengthen existing ties between the two nations.
He was speaking on Saturday in Petersfield, Westmoreland, at the celebration of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The celebration marked the 50th anniversary of an unsuccessful attempt by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to overthrow the Cuban government, then led by Fidel Castro.
Saturday night's celebration was hosted by the Westmoreland chapter of the Jamaica/Cuba Friendship Association.