KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaican public health sector is expected to benefit from the services of more than 100 Cuban medical personnel, under renewal of the Cuba-Jamaica Technical Co-operation Agreement.
Under the agreement, Jamaica will be provided with the services of various categories of medical personnel, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, medical technologists, cytotechnologists, nurses, nursing tutors, biomedical engineers and technicians, physiotherapists, clinical dieticians, and other specialties agreed on by both governments.
The tour of duty will be for a year, initially. However, both parties will decide if the services of the workers will be extended beyond that period. Jamaica will provide passage for the workers to and from Cuba as well as accommodation, while the Cuban Ministry of Health will pay their salaries.
Speaking at the signing of the agreement on Thursday, July 26 at the Ministry on King Street, Jamaica Health Minister, Horace Dalley said the selection of July 26 was of deep significance, as it marked the 54th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
“Symbolically, I chose to do it this day. The co-operation between Jamaica and Cuba has been excellent,” he said.
Chargé d’Affaires at the Cuban Embassy, Igor Heiva Diez, also agreed with the timing of the occasion.
“For me, this is a good time to come to the Minister of Health in order to sign the protocol, because this day for the Cuban people is very important, [as] on July 26 in 1953 the revolutionary movement began, taking [President] Fidel Castro in 1959 to government,” he remarked.
He said that the co-operation between the two countries would continue, so that more Jamaicans would benefit.
Commenting on the shortage of healthcare workers, the Minister said this was not a problem unique to Jamaica. “It is always a challenge to get the total complement needed in the health sector,” he said.
“Over the years we have been looking overseas for help. We have recruited from India, Burma and Cuba and we are signing this agreement for another batch of medical support personnel that we need,” he said.
Minister Dalley noted the “tremendous help” that Jamaica has received from Cuba in the field of engineering, medicine and languages, among other areas. Currently, there are some 500 Jamaicans studying in Cuba and last year alone, 70 Jamaican students went there to study medicine.
“I anticipate that this year the amount of scholarships that Jamaica will receive to study in Cuba will not be less than what we got last year,” he noted.
“There are many doctors in the public health system who were trained in Cuba, and are helping to keep the system together,” the Minister added.
The first Cuba-Jamaica Technical Co-operation agreement was signed in 1976.