More than one million people from Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa have recovered their vision thanks to the Operation Milagro free eye-surgery program started by Cuba and Venezuela. A ceremony took place Wednesday in Havana to mark the milestone reached in December.
The tribute was presided over by Health Minister Jose Ramon Balaguer and Victor Gaute, member of the Communist Party Secretariat. On hand were patients, professionals, technicians and other workers tied to the humanitarian effort. They sent a joint special recognition to President Fidel Castro, for having conceived the idea of Operation Milagro and his continuous involvement in its development.
"The goal wasn't to reach a million; the miracle continues and will continue," said Balaguer. "This program is truly effective in the sense that men and women with a revolutionary conscience, and highly knowledgeable in the task proposed, have given their bodies and souls to it," he added.
Balaguer spoke about the importance of Fidel's idea of going house to house to find people with health problems and try to remedy them. It has become a revolutionary experience in our health system, he said.
Dr. Elia Rosa Lemus Lago, a staff member of the Council of State, described the advanced ophthalmology technology that Cuba has acquired and put at the service of patients. Equipment she said offers high quality attention that has also benefited 150,000 Cubans.
Operation Miracle has taken on major proportions with 165 Cuban institutions taking part in one way or another. In all there is a network of 49 ophthalmologic centers with 82 operating rooms in 14 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Lemus noted.
During the ceremony, diplomas signed by Fidel Castro were handed to the institutions and organizations that have made Operation Miracle a success.
Recognition was also given to the Operation Miracle missions abroad in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, San Vicente and the Grenadines, Guyana, Paraguay, Granada, Nicaragua, and Uruguay.
Operation Miracle has revolutionized ophthalmology. Thanks to the ideas of Fidel, an ophthalmology network has developed in Cuba that includes an ophthalmology faculty opened with new teaching methods that transform the concepts of centuries of medical education.