Preventable blindness has declined significantly in Latin America and the Caribbean through the Miracle Mission program initiated by Cuba and Venezuela in 2004.
The project was created by former Cuban president Fidel Castro and backed by former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Under the program, Venezuela flies those needing eye surgery to Cuba, where they are operated on for free.
According to the World Health Organisation, this social program is aimed at providing sight-saving surgery, free of charge, for people with few economic resources suffering from blindness or correctable visual deficiency.
Official figures note that, by July last year, the Miracle Mission had helped 3.5 million patients around the world, mostly in Latin America.
The social mission provides consultation and general pediatric ophthalmology, neuro-ophthalmology, as well as low vision and retina treatment.
About 90% of the beneficiaries are Venezuelan, while the other 10% come from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]