For the second time in a matter of days, the health sector is set to benefit from a bilateral arrangement. This time the help is to come in the form of access to medical training and technology from Cuba.
The revelation came from Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Dr Jerome Walcott, following recent talks with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez Parilla.
Senator Walcott said that Barbados and Cuba have had a long history of collaboration and the visit from the Cuban foreign Minister allowed for further discussions on how this collaboration can be built upon in the current era.
The move comes just days after Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced plans to augment chronic nursing shortages, with 400 nurses from Ghana, following the visit of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Said Senator Walcott of the bilateral talks with Cuba: “We spoke of the need to go into different areas in terms of specialist nursing, in terms of nurses being trained in oncology. We also dealt with the issue of pharmaceuticals.”
Speaking at a press conference at Accra Beach Hotel, Senator Walcott, himself a medical doctor, noted that he was especially excited about gaining access to Cuba’s technology on treating leg ulcers on persons with diabetes.
“Cuba has some revolutionary techniques as it relates to diabetes in terms of the management of leg ulcers which is a scourge of diabetes in Barbados. They [Cuba] have done some very good work and we are looking at trying to get access to some of the drugs and methods.
“We want our professionals to be trained in treating leg ulcers and the diabetic foot and we have had discussions on how this can become available to us.”
The Foreign Minister noted that Cuba has done extensive work in the area of microbiology and vaccines, which are of significant interest to Barbados.
“Many of you might not know that the vaccines for yellow fever was in fact discovered in Cuba. More recently they have discovered vaccines for certain types of cancers such as those that affect the head, neck, lungs and liver. These are areas that we can certainly work collaboratively.”
But he noted that the health sector was not the only beneficiary of the exchanges with Cuba, as education, culture and sports, will also receive a boost as a result of the closer ties.
“As it relates to education, we spoke about the need to widen this system of foreign languages. Cubans will be exposed in terms of training in English and we benefit in terms of Spanish training.
“There is a MOU which is being reviewed by the Ministry of Education and we hope that this will roll out in the not too distant future.”