The celebration event was hosted by many representatives from different institutions of the government of Cuba like Caridad Diego and María de los Angeles Perez from the Department of Religious Topics of the Communist Party of Cuba, the Vice Minister of Work and Social Security, Yusumi Campos, representatives from the Ministry of Health and Education. There were also representatives from the Cuban Association of Persons with Physical and Motor Impairments, the National Association of Blind People and the German Ambassador in Cuba, Karl Neisinger.
As well, David Bainbridge, International Senior Leadership Team Chairman, Regine Polynice, Regional Director for Latin America and The Caribbean, Iris Menn, International Programs Director, Janina De Oliveira, Unit Head Public Donors for the Region and Cristina Barrera, Programs Officer for Cuba and Ecuador, represented CBM during the event.
History of cooperation
The work of CBM in the island of Cuba started during the 90s in cooperation with local civil society organizations working on community eye health and ear and audition health with support of community programs for persons with disabilities. The official start of the cooperation between CBM and CIC started in 1997, with specific support to the Municipal Hospital in Matanzas and Jagüey Grande. Some of the initiatives have reached a national scope of coverage.
On the 2000’s support came through the Ministry of Education too in projects of inclusion of students with low vision to centers of education. Various efforts are taken for the improvement of the quality of life of persons with disabilities in the country through the Community Based Development strategy approach, going further to strengthen livelihood conditions of persons with disabilities.
Another highlight of the cooperation in Cuba was the emergency support after the passing of the Matthew Hurricane in 2016 with the delivery of water filters in affected sectors that had no access to drinkable water.
As a part of the deafness prevention project, one relevant feature was the implementation of the first Temporal Bone Laboratory in Cuba; it has brought about the improvement of surgical capabilities amongst health professionals. This work is being further strengthened with a new project in progress during this year, in order to lay a foundation for the establishment of a public policy on the issue of hearing health.
Projects developed with the support of CBM in Cuba have been able to create the platform for the institutionalization of the programs. For example, the national blindness prevention program, with the commitment of the Ministry of Health has taken this program and has converted it into a national policy. The success of this approach and its benefits has been exported to many other countries in the Region.
Our vision in Cuba
David Bainbridge concluded, “This collaboration is an example of successful work. The vision of CBM is an inclusive world where persons with disability can reach their full potential and we are now seeing that our dreams are becoming a reality here in Cuba”.