Some 200 Bahamians are set to benefit from cataract eye surgeries courtesy of the Chinese government.
The surgeries are expected to begin in March and continue through mid-April.
According to Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez, a team of Chinese doctors and nurses called the Bright Journey Medical will work side by side with a team of Bahamian professionals.
In fact, he said the two sides have been meeting to ensure the success of the project.
“There are a large number of persons across The Bahamas who are in need of this surgery, some of whom have been waiting for a while,” he told parliamentarians on Wednesday.
“Bright Journey will not only perform surgeries, but they will be providing much of the necessary equipment and supplies to facilitate their work here. The items that will be used will be generously donated to the government for continued use by our doctors.”
The Christie led government made a similar deal during its first stint in office.
At that time, it negotiated an agreement that saw hundreds of Bahamians receive free eye surgery, courtesy of the Cuban government.
Eye surgeries are not the only gifts the government has received from abroad.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has donated 13 tricycle ambulances to The Bahamas.
According to the minister, they were shipped to Grand Bahama for assemblage, which is almost complete.
“Four of these will be kept by the Grand Bahama Health Services and used in High Rock, McLeans Town, Sweetings Cay and Grand Cay, Abaco,” he said.
“The remaining nine, which are expected to be sent to Nassau any day now, will be apportioned by the Department of Public Health for use in other islands and cays. These unique, three wheeled ambulances would be the first of its kind in The Bahamas.”
The health minister further revealed plans to construct a new cold storage facility to preserve vaccines.
“The current cold chain storage facility is not adequate to accommodate new additional vaccines. This structure is needed to securely store the nation’s supply of vaccines and will be at a cost of just under $1million,” Dr. Gomez said.
“This investment will secure the integrity of our expanded programme on immunisation. The government has agreed that a new facility will be built with the relevant modern features and safeguards…the project and the drawings are now under review.”
The government hopes to break ground on the proposed Flamingo Gardens Clinic site on Carmichael Road.
Turning to the dollars and cents of his ministry, the minister revealed that six months into the current fiscal year and the Department of Public Health has used almost 80 per cent of its $32.9million budget. He however assured that it remains on target to pay out personal emoluments.
The department’s other expenses include hiring additional healthcare workers, equipment and other resources for new health facilities in Abaco and Exuma at a cost of $5.5 million per facility.
“It is estimated that an additional amount of $2.5 million is needed to support the costs of providing extended hours of service, expanded diagnostic capacity inclusive of key laboratory and imaging services and strengthened information and communication technologies…,” the minister explained.
The government must also part with $1.9 million to address “severe” physician shortages.
“There is an overall physician deficit of 28 physicians in the department, including eight physicians needed to serve in the Family Island communities,” Dr. Gomez said.
“To address this shortage by recruitment of new physicians and to finance the formal transfer of physicians to the department, approximately $2milion in required. A temporary, but costly measure to address this matter has been the provision of short-term physician presence to islands and communities that do not have a resident physician. These locations include Bimini, Cat Island, Andros, Spanish Wells, San Salvador and the Berry Islands…This matter will be addressed shortly and physicians will be recruited and posted.”