Jamaica's Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton. (GP)
KINGSTON – Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton on Saturday welcomed 140 health care professionals, including 90 specialist nurses, who will help to bolster the country’s frontline staff in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The team from Cuba which was met by the minister on their arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport, also includes 46 doctors and three therapists.
According to Tufton, the entire team will be quarantined for 14 days, as is the protocol.
“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, minimise the impact and help us to overcome the challenges quickly and, by extension, recover.”
He also credited the team from the ministry for exercising forward-thinking and worked 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,” he said.
Tufton explained that an assessment of the specialists who were needed was done and a request was made. While expressing gratitude for the team on behalf of Jamaican people, he also thanked the Cuban Government and the Cuban Ambassador, Inés Fors Fernández, who was instrumental in ensuring that 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.
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.
“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,” Reid said.