Operation Miracle, the free Cuban-Venezuelan eyecare program launched in 2004, has brought back the vision of some 688,000 Bolivians.
The Ocular Health Officer for Bolivia's Ministry of Health, Rodrigo Guzman says most of the surgeries treated those suffering from pterygium, a disease where eye tissue grows due to exposure to wind and sun, a common problem in the country.
Operations have also been successfully performed on cataracts, when opacity of the eye lens prevents light from passing through, causing total or partial sight loss.
The program, which guarantees 100 percent free optometry consultations, exams, surgeries and medications to working-class people, has made 2,957,189 diagnostic consultations in Bolivia.
The Bolivian President Evo Morales launched the program last year. He thanked Cuban doctors for their solidarity and unconditional help, saying they are an example not only Bolivia but also to the entire world.
The late revolutionary leaders, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, launched the program in 2004. During its first year, only Venezuelan patients were treated. But in 2005 it was extended to other Caribbean, Central and South American countries.
Initially, patients had to travel to Cuba to for treatmant, but in 2006 the program set up ophthalmology centers in several nations, including Bolivia.
According to the Granma, today there are 65 ophthalmology centers, equipped with 93 operating theaters, in 18 countries across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa, providing treatment to people in 34 nations.