Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cuba and Dominica agrees on new areas of cooperation

By Sean Douglas

Ten Dominicans who have graduated in medicine from Cuban universities will be able to specialise in a variety of areas at Cuban Universities from September this year.

This information came out of the Sixth Dominica-Cuba Joint Commission which took place in Havana, Cuba on May 4 and 5, 2009. The Fifth Dominica-Cuba Joint Commission Meeting took place in 2007 in Cuba.

vince henderson
Foreign affairs minister Vince Henderson.
Addressing the media at a news conference on the outcome of the Meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Labour, Hon. Vince Henderson said that the areas of specialisation will include general surgery, oncology, intensive care medicine, urology, cardiology and psychiatry among others.

It was also agreed that the Cuban specialists and technicians who are in Dominica managing the Intensive Care Unit and the Diagnostic Centre, will provide training to Dominican medical personnel with the possibility of continuing their training in Cuba if necessary.

Through collaboration with the Dominica State College, the Cuban specialists will be able to run special training programmes for Dominican doctors, nurses, lab technicians and other medical personnel.

It is hoped that one day Dominicans will be able to manage the ICU and the Diagnostic Centre by themselves. The Minister added that also coming out of the 6th Dominica-Cuba Joint Commission Meeting will be the expansion of the health care education programme.

The intention is to move “from strictly nursing education to expanding the programme to health care education where persons will be trained in areas of specialisation not only in nursing but in other areas such as dental assistants, lab technicians and other areas of health care” so as to take fuller advantage of the numerous Cuban medical professionals who are working in Dominica.

In the field of agriculture, agreement was reached for the assistance of the Cuban Government to help Dominica rehabilitate its citrus industry which has been blighted by the citrus tristeza virus in recent years. Technical assistance will also be provided for the agro-processing sector.

Hon. Henderson added that the Dominica government will work with the Cubans in the areas of education, culture, agriculture and agro-processing in the development of programmes to be funded under the Bolvarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

Also agreed at the Sixth Dominica-Cuba Joint Commission was the launching of a programme to teach English as a second language for the many Cubans working in Dominica at various medical facilities throughout the island. It is also anticipated that Cubans visiting Dominica will also be able to take advantage of the programme.

The programme will be administered by the Dominica State College.
Since 2006, in collaboration with the Dominica State College, Cuban medical professionals have been providing training for Dominicans to become nurses.

Currently there are thirty-six (36) Cuban medical personnel on island providing critical support at the Intensive Care Unit at the Princess Margaret Hospital, the fully equipped Diagnostic Centre in Portsmouth and the Miracle Eye Care programme.

Hon. Henderson also revealed that a team of Cuban technicians will provide assistance to Dominica in the Government’s quest to build an international airport in Dominica.

Mr. Henderson’s remarks comes only months after Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit and Energy and Ports Minister Hon. Charles Savarin confirmed the establishment of a broad-based committee headed by Permanent Secretary, Mr. Vincent Philbert to coordinate the efforts towards the construction of the international airport.

The Dominican delegation used the opportunity to express its profound gratitude and appreciation to the Cuban Government for the tremendous contribution it has made to Dominica over the last thirty years.

Three hundred and twenty-four Dominicans have graduated from Cuban Universities over the last three decades. One hundred and two Dominican students are currently pursuing studies in Cuba, with another eight expected to leave Dominica to pursue undergraduate degrees in September, 2009.

Other members of the delegation for the Sixth Dominica-Cuba Joint Commission were Hon. Ian Pinard, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Hon. Urban Baron, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructural Development and Mr. Hubert Charles, President of the Dominica State College.

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