(2nd February 2015)
Cuba has been a strategic partner in the provision of healthcare in St. Lucia for more than 15 years, providing services in the areas of eye health, dialysis and biomedical services. In January Minister for Health Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, Hon. Alvina Reynolds and Cuban Ambassador, Jorge Soberon signed another cooperation agreement strengthening the ties between Saint Lucia and Cuba.
Ambassador Soberon said, “This cooperation agreement takes into account prior experiences. So we are building upon that. So we hope we are going to be in total compliance with the cooperation agreement, which means basically we are going to bring more quality services when it comes to healthcare and to make a more effective contribution to the development of healthcare here in Saint Lucia mainly within the public sector. So we are very happy that we are able to continue cooperation in this sensitive and important area.”
The Cuban Ambassador stated that from all reports the people of Saint Lucia have been very friendly and cooperative with Cuban medical staff, “and most off all very appreciative,” of the cooperation agreement in the area of healthcare.
“We belong, both Cuba and Saint Lucia, to the Caribbean and there are not many differences between Cubans and Saint Lucians. In addition to that we should remember that more than 500 Saint Lucians have graduated in Cuba in different areas. So we are talking about an exchange of experiences and knowledge and all of our teams when we get back to Cuba, bring very good memories about Saint Lucia. We hope it remains this way because it creates human relations between us and the Saint Lucian people that we care about very, very much.”
Minister for Health, Hon. Alvina Reynolds welcomed the renewing of this cooperation agreement which she says ultimately benefits the people of Saint Lucia in the health sector.
“Over the last 15 years we have reached out to Cuba and they have responded very well in terms of strengthening our health sector.”
Reynolds indicated that the Cuban medical teams will also assist in critical areas such as eye, cancer and kidney care, currently under resourced while persons are out furthering their studies or receiving professional training.
“As we position ourselves to move into the New National Hospital, the Owen King EU Hospital, we want to ensure that we have a very strong team of healthcare workers to dealt with the issues that we constantly face among the population in St. Lucia. So, today we are very pleased to see that we can renew our collaboration and to strengthen the healthcare system in terms of human resource. So definitely it’s a day to celebrate and we want to extend our sincere thanks to Ambassador Soberon and as well the government and people of the Republic of Cuba.”
Cointha Thomas, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health stated that this agreement comes at a cost of EC$1.5 million to the government of St. Lucia and the Cuban team consisting of 25 medical personnel will work in various parts of the health sector.
“At the two hospitals we have specialists in the Nephrology Department that is the area where we take care of the dialysis patients. We have specialists at the Victoria Hospital from all the different health specialties from women’s health, ophthalmology, the eye clinic continues with about eight professional. In the maintenance department on this occasion we have a biomedical engineer who will support the maintenance and care of the equipment particularly as we move to the new hospital with the new type of equipment, equipment that we were not using previously, we do have a specialist who is part of the maintenance team who will assist in ensuring that the equipment is used and maintained properly.”
As the Victoria Hospital continues the transitioning effort to the Owen King EU Hospital, health officials look forward to further support and collaboration to strengthen healthcare services in Saint Lucia. The agreement was signed at the offices of the Ministry of Health.