KINGSTON, CMC :
Jamaica says more than 1,000 people benefitted from procedures conducted under the Jamaica-Cuba Eye Care programme last year.
Coordinator of the programme, Gregory Thomas, said that 1,250 people benefitted from the project and an additional 16,000 consultations also took place last year.
The programme, which seeks to help reduce preventable blindness in adults, evolved from the five-year Jamaica-Cuba Eye Care Project, which previously saw persons being screened for eye conditions in Jamaica and sent to Cuba for treatment.
"The first bilateral agreement of cooperation between the governments of Jamaica and the Republic of Cuba for the establishment of an Ophthalmology Centre of Excellence in Jamaica, where persons would be treated for eye disorders here instead of having to seek treatment abroad, was signed on July 28, 2009.
"This marked the end of an era spanning five years and the beginning of a new one," he said.
Launched in January 2010, the programme offers, free of cost, surgical treatment for persons suffering from three specific conditions: cataracts, diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina caused by complications of diabetes mellitus and pterygium, a non-cancerous fleshy growth, usually on the surface of the eye.
Thomas said since the inception of the programme, over 46,000 consultations had been done, more than 4, 200 surgeries performed, and over 3,790 patients have received surgical treatment.
He said the programme would continue to provide the highest level of care to patients with a view to keeping the number of complications to a minimum.
"Since the start of the programme, there has been only one case of serious complication of the over 4,200 surgeries performed," Thomas said.
Apart from Jamaica, Cuba has similar eye-care programmes with several Caribbean Community countries.