Caribbean

140 Health Care Professionals Arrive in Jamaica From Cuba to Help With COVID-19 Fight

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton welcoming the team of Cuban medical professionals at the Norman Manley International Airport on Saturday. (Photo: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday March 23, 2020 – A total of 140 health care professionals, including 90 specialist nurses, have arrived in Jamaica to help bolster the country’s frontline staff in the fight against the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The team
from Cuba, which was met by Minster of Health and WellnessDr Christopher Tufton
on their arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport over the weekend,
also includes 46 doctors and three therapists.

Among the
nurses are those that specialize in medical surgeries, emergency and critical
care.

Minister Tufton
said the health care professionals will be quarantined for 14 days, as is the
protocol, before being deployed across the island which has 19 confirmed cases
of COVID-19. Cuba has recorded 35 cases, including one death.

“They will
be deployed in various capacities to ensure that the frontline is bolstered and
strengthened to deal with the eventualities that we will have to confront and
that I hope will, therefore, minimize the impact and help us to overcome the
challenges quickly and by extension recover,” the Health Minister said.

He also
credited the team from the Ministry who worked assiduously with the Cuban
Embassy to ensure that the medical team arrived in the island quickly.

“I have a
world-class team in terms of public health personnel and leadership because we
anticipated that the day would come when we would need these persons from early
in the day, from as far back as a month and a half ago,” Dr Tufton pointed out,
while adding that an assessment of the specialists who were needed was done and
a request was made.

He also
thanked the Cuban Government and the Cuban Ambassador Inés Fors Fernández who
was very instrumental in ensuring the request was honoured.

“As you know
we have a long-standing relationship with Cuba and the Cuban Government in the
area of medicine. We have the Cuban Eyecare Programme and we have over 300
Cuban healthcare professionals who are here already and they provide
significant value to our public health system and that has been a longstanding
tradition,” he said.

“So today
what you are witnessing is a continuation of that friendship and relationship
and in the time of crisis, this emergency that we have COVID-19, the Cuban
Government, the Cuban people through [the] Ambassador have risen, and they have
heard our appeal and have responded and we are very elated,” the Minister
added.

Both the
Chairman of the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee hospitals, Dr Stephanie
Reid and the Chief Nursing Officer in Jamaica, Patricia Ingram Martin expressed
gratitude for the medical team and the support that will be given to the health
system.

“With
respect to the doctors, we have a number of doctors coming in who are trained
in primary care who will be [at] our health centres. This will be particularly
important at this time because we expect to have a greater demand on the health
centres and on the health system so we are particularly elated and we are
particularly grateful,” Dr Reid said.

For her
part, Ingram Martin said the nursing fraternity in Jamaica is very delighted to
have this level of support at this time.

“We were pressured before but with what is happening with COVID-19 we know there is the potential for us to be even more overwhelmed. So with these persons coming in to assist, it will greatly put a lot of stress off the system in terms of workforce,” she said.

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