This year 100,261 people have recovered their sight in 72 centres free of charge. Miracle Mission is a humanitarian programme that attends the poorest who couldn't enjoy their lives fully due to blindness or visual impairment. The programme began in 2005 and is run jointly by Venezuela and Cuba.
98% of these patients are Venezuelan, and the remaining are foreigners collected on international flights from Ecuador, Paraguay, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica y Belize. The service for foreigners is completely financed by the Venezuelan government and includes transport, accommodation and food. The surgeries are performed in Havana and Caracas.
Miracle Mission was created as one of the co-operation agreements signed between Cuba and Venezuela within the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (Alba) in 2004. That year, 204,736 Venezuelans were operated in Cuba, and in 2005 Venezuela was included as one of the destinations for medical treatment. Now the programme considers every country from the region, even when they do not belong to Alba.
According to World Health Organisation figures about 284 million people are visually impaired worldwide, 39 million of which are blind and 245 have low vision. Also, about 90% of the world's visually impaired live in developing countries.
This programme has raised huge controversy over the presence of Cubans in the country. However, these accusations haven't yet prevented Miracle Mission from keeping its goal of restoring the sight of 6 million people from all over the continent by 2015.