‘Miracle’ eye care program set to resume in January

ByMartha R. Camara

Oct 30, 2022

QUINONES SANCHEZ…this is a very important program for the people of Jamaica – for the vulnerable population – that has been shut down because of COVID and nothing else. (Photo: HG Help)

With ALL healthy, the “Miracle Operation” Jamaica/Cuba Eye Care program is expected to be operational again by early 2023.

The popular program – sponsored, operated and managed by the government of Cuba – was suspended at the height of the novel cornavirus pandemic in 2021, and medical staff returned to their country after years of treating thousands of Jamaicans suffering from acute eye problems.

Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Fermin Quinones Sanchez, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer last Tuesday, expressed his joy that the program will resume as soon as certain logistics are settled.

“We are working with the Department of Health and Welfare to resume as soon as possible, which we hope to be by early January next year,” the socialist country’s chief envoy said in Kingston. “This is a very important program for the people of Jamaica – for the vulnerable population – who have been shut down because of COVID and nothing else.

“The Jamaican government has received assurances from the Cuban government that as soon as things here are ready, we will be ready,” Quinones Sanchez said.

As part of the programme, procedures have been performed at three corporate sector sites – National Chest Hospital, St Joseph’s Hospital and Kingston School of Nursing – and by all indications at least the first two sites mentioned above will be used. when resuming service. .

Last week, the Minister of Health and Welfare, Dr Christopher Tufton, traveled to the Cuban capital, Havana, to discuss this and other issues with senior officials of the great Caribbean country. with a population of 11.3 million.

Six months ago in April, the Sunday Observer reported that more than 3,000 people had been waiting for more than six months to undergo surgery.

The much-demanded program, which began with Jamaica sending patients to Cuba, took on a new flavor after the Cuban government decided to transfer its optical staff to Jamaica – a move officials saw as not only reducing the cost of airfare and accommodation in Cuba, but also made it possible to reach more affected people on local soil.

The program started on August 26, 2005 and has treated more than 100,000 Jamaicans in the 16 years of its existence.

Since its suspension late last year, Cuban embassy officials said they have been inundated with phone calls and inquiries on social media platforms about whether the program has ceased for good or, if not. , when it would resume.

“Every day we receive phone calls at the embassy,” Quinones Sanchez told the Sunday Observer. “When you check Facebook, Instagram and so on, the same questions are asked.

“Many people need to have the program in place, and Cuba is very proud that we will be part of the solution for the many Jamaicans who need surgery and treatment. Cuban doctors are here to work and support Jamaican health – care system. Period!

“The relationship between Jamaica and the Cuban people goes beyond borders – more than 200 years. We are sister nations and we must support each other. We have provided support through health care and the Jamaican people supported Cuba – especially in our fight against the US blockade – and that is what we thank them for,” said Quinones Sanchez.

More than 100,000 surgeries were performed during the Jamaican operations span. At last count, about 20 specialists and technicians were working in Jamaica under this program.

There are 47 other centers in Latin American and Caribbean countries.