Wednesday, September 13, 2006

375,000 Have Sight Thanks to Cuba

HAVANA (AP) - Cuba will bring its free eye surgery program to Africa and Asia in the coming months, expanding a campaign that has restored eyesight to hundreds of thousands of poor people in 28 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Most of the surgeries are done at the Cuban Ophthamology Institute in western Havana, a complex of buildings with 34 operating rooms where 62 doctors and dozens of residents can perform simultaneous operations, the directors said.

But "Operation Miracle" has also expanded to clinics in Venezuela and Bolivia and Cuban teams will soon expand to Ecuador and Mexico as well.

Various countries in both Africa and Asia have asked for Cuba's help, so in December, the first eye clinic using technology provided by the Cuban government will open in a yet-to-be-named country in Africa or Asia, with more to follow, director Marcelino Rios Torres said in Havana at the Non-aligned Movement's summit.

The Cuban government usually pays for air fare and other costs, as well as the surgeries. Since the program began in July 2004 with a group of poor Venezuelan patients, Cuban doctors have performed eye surgery, mostly for cataracts, on 375,619 patients, Rios Torres said.

As the program has grown, Cuba has acquired cutting-edge technology, mostly from the European Union and Asia because of the decades-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. In return, Cuba offers specialists whose dedication to serve the poor reflects the zeal of the Cuban revolution, the directors said.

"The mission is only directed at those patients who can't pay for private health care and don't have insurance," said Reinaldo Rios Caso, the institute's vice-director.

The patients, he said, are "poor people who have been blind for years because they're poor and would continue to be blind if not for this kind of help."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more Cuban doctors being sent as castroite missionaries the more defections we will see. Why do you think so many Cuban doctors defect? Who pays for all those surgeries, they are not free?

6:50 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

Out of at least 35,000 doctors sent abroad we have had how many defections? I have read of a handful of cause celebre cases. If it was a real issue don't you think Cuba would think twice about these programs?

Who pays for the surgeries? Cuba and the subject country both shoulder some of the cost. It is free for the patient - flight, hotel and all.

Only a real ideologue would find something wrong with this amazing humanitarian mission.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Mark D. Glesne said...

So good is Cuba's health care system, world leaders fly from countries around the world to be cared for by Cuban doctors.

Wait a second...


12:12 PM  
Blogger Mark D. Glesne said...

...okay I got it.

Nope, that's the US.

5:02 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

I didn't quite get what you were saying there... because Plenty of leaders and rich people DO go to Cuba.

But obviously comparing the number of world leaders going to a developing country vs. the US is not going to be the best measure of what Cuba's strong suit is - that is treating the weakest and most insecure. That is what this article is about.

6:55 PM  
Blogger jsb said...

comparing the number of world leaders going to a developing country vs. the US

Cuba is not developing, that's the problem. Despite almost a half century, Cuba is still considered "developing"? When will you realize that communism isn't going to develop anything?

7:48 AM  
Blogger jsb said...

Will you still call it "developing" if it was a one-hundred year old model of communism? 200 years old? When do you call "developing" simply failure?

7:49 AM  

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