Preventable blindness has declined significantly in Latin America and the Caribbean through the Miracle Mission program that began in Cuba in 2004.
The project was created by the former Cuban president, Fidel Castro and developed by the former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.
The Mission Miracle, promoted by Cuba and Venezuela, marked its 10th anniversary Tuesday. The first group of people benefited by the program traveled on July 8, 2004, from Caracas to Havana in order to be operated on for free.
According to the World Health Organization, this social program is aimed providing sight-saving surgery, free of charge, for people with little economic resources suffering from blindness or correctable visual deficiency.
Official figures note that the Miracle Mission has helped 3.5 million patients around the world, although mainly in Latin America.
The social mission provides consultation and general pediatric ophthalmology, neuro-ophthalmology, as well as low vision and retina treatment among others that are available in all regions with highly trained professionals who are willing to serve people in need.
The mission is supported by several countries in the region, especially Venezuela.
The initiative was successful for over a year. On August 25, 2005, Castro, and Chavez signed an agreement to extend Mission Miracle for a period of 10 years, during which 6 million Latin Americans would be benefited.
Around 90 percent of the beneficiaries are Venezuelan, while 10 percent are from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.