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Health Minister hails 'Bright Journey Initiative' as Major Success


Nassau, The Bahamas - Surgical interventions by a team of doctors and nurses from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have resulted in not only 101 successful cataract surgeries being performed on Bahamian patients at the Princess Margaret Hospital during a two-week span, but also a major cost savings to the Bahamian public healthcare system.

The surgeries were performed free of charge under the “Bright Journey Initiative” Agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

Bahamian healthcare officials say the surgeries, which were performed between the period May 1-May12, would have cost an estimated $5,000-$7,000 per surgery, meaning that the interventions have saved the system/patients between $505,000 and $707,000.

The Government of the People’s Republic of China also provided all of the equipment, instruments, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals for the project, valued at $570,000, bringing the cost savings to over one million dollars.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Perry Gomez, took receipt of that equipment Tuesday afternoon on behalf of the people and the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas during a hand-over ceremony at the new Critical Care Block facility. The presentation was made by His Excellency Yuan Guisen, Ambassador, People’s Republic of China to The Bahamas.

“Bright Journey has been an innovative project which I hope creates a template for further collaboration between The Bahamas and China on a wide-range of public health issues,” Dr. Gomez said.

“The patients who received surgical care over the last two weeks and their families, owe the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China a great debt for their generosity,” Dr. Gomez added.

Dr. Gomez said the “Bright Journey Initiative” would not have been possible without the “political will” of the People’s Republic of China and without the willingness of the team of doctors, nurses, engineers, programme officers, journalists and interpreters who travelled over 7,000 miles to be a part of “this most important initiative.”

“These doctors and nurses have certainly earned a special place in our hearts collectively and I hope they realise that they will always be considered a part of our extended healthcare family.

“On behalf of the People and Government of The Bahamas, I am pleased to welcome all of you and most especially His Excellency, Ambassador Yuan to the Princess Margaret Hospital at the culmination of an exciting partnership between our nations.”

Dr. Gomez said the Initiative has been a “high-water mark” for The Bahamas with respect to health diplomacy.

“By necessity, Health Diplomacy often centres around tragedy and crisis – for example, when a natural disaster, humanitarian crisis or infectious pandemic crosses national boundaries – we have seen countries and regions come together to address such crises.

“Far less frequent are international partnerships of this kind where the resources and expertise of two nations are brought together in the most effective way possible to improve the health and quality of life of ordinary men and women.”

Dr. Gomez said the success of the Initiative also hit a high-note for the Department of Public Health and the Public Hospitals Authority with regards to building greater capacity.

“It is important to note that the Department of Public Health and the Public Hospitals Authority prioritised ophthalmic care as part of an ongoing capacity-building initiative across the public healthcare system in The Bahamas.

“Under the Nursing Services Advisor’s Office, cohorts of nurses from New Providence and Grand Bahama were trained in ophthalmic nursing, laying the foundation in human capital for the procedures executed as part of ‘Bright Journey’. In addition, the Eye Wing operating theatres where the procedures for ‘Bright Journey’ took place were only recently renovated and expanded as part of PMH’s phased infrastructural development plan, made possible by the expansion of the hospital with the addition of the new Critical Care Block.

“Indeed over the coming months and years, the public will be able to see a systematic re-development of our nation’s most iconic healthcare facility which will certainly improve the patient care experience throughout the hospital,” Dr. Gomez added.

The Health Minister also applauded the efforts of staff at the Ministry of Health and the Princess Margaret Hospital, especially Dr. James Johnson, Medical Chief of Staff and Dr. Juli Zannetta-Dean, Consultant Head of Ophthalmic Services.

“They have earned all of our appreciation and respect for the herculean efforts they have expended to ensure Bright Journey’s success.”