On July 9, on the initiative of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, late president of Venezuela, Operation Miracle – a program providing comprehensive medical care to patients suffering from a variety of eye conditions – was founded.
According to figures provided by the Cuban Ophthalmology Institute, during its first year only Venezuelan patients were treated under the program, at the Ramón Pando Ferrer Hospital in Havana. Surgeries were also performed in Santiago de Cuba and Holguín.
In 2005, the program was extended to other Caribbean, Central and South American countries. Initially all patients traveled to Cuba to be treated, however in 2006 ophthalmology centers were set up in various nations, making treatment more readily available to those most in need.
In order to carry out the program modern technology was purchased and the island’s ophthalmology services underwent a restoration process. Many Cuban specialists, nurses, technicians and engineers were trained, while the Cuban Ophthalmology Faculty was also founded, from which over 600 specialists have graduated to date.
Operation Miracle was initially implemented in Cuba, where it has been gradually perfected over all levels of the healthcare system nationwide.
According to the report, today there are currently 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.
Soon two million surgeries will have been performed under what is now known as Mission Miracle, “a precedent in our history of ophthalmologic collaboration around the world, which makes said program a further example of the internationalist character of our healthcare system,” noted Dr. Juan Raúl Hernández Silva, the first Cuban ophthalmologist to perform eye surgery in Venezuela in 2005.