1.5 mn Latin Americans undergo free eye surgery
Caracas : Under a joint programme promoted by Cuba and Venezuela, more than 1.5 million people from Latin American countries have had free eye surgery since 2004, the Prensa Latina news agency reported.
A total of 1,596,388 eye surgeries have been performed under the "Mission Miracle" programme.
The figure includes more than 33,000 people from Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Chile, Paraguay and Argentina, said Manuel Pacheco, national coordinator of the mission.
He said people have been operated for pterygium - abnormal growth of tissue on the cornea - and cataracts and strabismus.
An average of 5,000 people are operated on every week.
The Mission Miracle began in July 2004 with the first planeload of Venezuelans who travelled to Cuba to receive free cataract surgery.
The flights were repeated for more than a year, until the Venezuelan government equipped local hospitals for the operations.
In August 2005, the Cuban and Venezuelan presidents signed an agreement, which included performing six million eye operations free of charge for the citizens of various countries for over a decade.