Monday, November 20, 2006

Cuba Eye Surgery Program Nears Half Million Miracles

Almost half a million people from 28 nations have benefited from Operation Miracle, a highly successful program started by Cuba that provides free surgery to low income patients.

A report issued by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health and presented at a recent parliamentary hearing informed that a total of 485,476 patients have been operated on including 290,000 Venezuelans.

The legislators heard about the progress of Operation Miracle, included in the agreements under the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which promotes solidarity and mutually beneficial social and economic development.

Elia Rosa Lemus, an official at the Health ministry, presented the data at a plenary session of the legislature.

Operation Miracle, created by Cuba and supported by Venezuela, has turned into a giant humanitarian campaign.

The initial eye operations took place exclusively at Cuban hospitals, but with the objective of extending the program, similar surgical facilities were set up in other nations, always under the supervision of Cuban medical personnel.

Today, 13 ophthalmologic centers are in service in Venezuela, and similar facilities are providing services in Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras and Bolivia.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Cuba defeats US manoeuvre that sought to use Australia as a pawn.

The US blockade of Cuba was dealt the most severe blow in its history when a Cuban draft Resolution at the UN demanding its lifting received 183 votes in favour (compared to 182 in 2005); this is a record high since the resolution was first brought before the UN General Assembly 15 years ago.

This time, and as has now become customary, four countries voted against the resolution: the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau. The second is a US province and the latter two have been protectorates of the United States for the last 60 year —their foreign affairs and budgets are controlled by Washington. Absent from the vote were Nicaragua, the Ivory Coast,

El Salvador and Iraq. The rest of the world voted against the blockade.
Speaking by telephone from New York, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said that the 15th condemnation of the US blockade at the General Assembly has been the most important for Cuba because it was achieved amidst difficult conditions and brutal pressures being exerted by Washington.
n attempt to change the spirit of the resolution, made by the United States through a servile Australia, was defeated by more than two-thirds of the UN members in what amounted to the first victory of the day for Cuba. Since Monday, the US mission to the UN had been manoeuvring to find a mouthpiece to represent it with a proposal to change the Cuban draft Resolution. Only on the eve of the vote did the US diplomats contact Australia, which lent itself to serve as their accomplice in presenting the amendment accusing Cuba of human rights violations.

The attempt was frustrated by Cuba when Ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca requested a motion of no action, which received the support of 126 states, while 54 voted against it, and five nations abstained. With that vote the US ploy was foiled.

A Prensa Latina correspondent in New York spoke with several delegates who voted in support of the "No Action" motion of Cuba. Anthony B. Severin, from St. Lucia, spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community; Mexico also opposed the change and dubbed it a dangerous attempt, since the Australian proposal tried to justify the very existence of the blockade. The South African representative, Sivo Maqungo, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 (134 nations), rebuffed the Australian amendment and ratified those nations’ support for the Cuban resolution, as did Russia and China.

Before the vote, the US tried to justify the blockade, but Cuban Alternate Ambassador Ileana Nunez rebutted the statements. She blasted Washington’s efforts to reinforce acts of aggression against Cuba and argued that the US —always disposed to unleash wars of conquests, bombing civilian populations and torturing prisoners— had no moral authority to raise the issue of human rights.

After the vote on the Cuban Resolution was taken electronically, numerous permanent representatives approached the Cuban delegation to congratulate its members and to inquire about the health of Cuban President Fidel Castro

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Restorative vision operations in Cuba have changed their lives
CIUDAD VICTORIA, Tamaulipas.— José Juan Pineda knows what it’s like to have to bear all kinds of nicknames alluding to the strabismus he was born with; 26 years have not been enough to get used to all the verbal abuse heaped on him from strangers and acquaintances alike, children and adults, and even professionals.
Socially, it’s awful to have a problem like mine, a childhood of ridicule, teenage years that were terrible, and even now as a professional, people’s jokes were ever-present – even my fellow engineers at work would say, ‘you have one eye mixing concrete and the other laying bricks.’
The most recurring nickname was ‘norno’ because they would say that I had one eye in the north and another in the northeast. When I was a child, they always called me ‘cross-eyes.’ It’s painful and traumatic to live like that; people don’t understand how one is born with defects. Even though science is well advanced, (I didn’t have) enough money to use the advanced clinics. That is why, now that my eyes are in their place, I never tire of blessing the moment that the Cuban doctors changed my entire life.”
The engineer from Ciudad Victoria is one of 300 people from the state of Tamaulipas who have benefited from Operation Miracle, a program of the Cuban government and Latin American organizations like the Workers Party here in Tamaulipas.
“The truth is, when you’ve lived your whole life with an eye problem and all of a sudden, in a matter of months, it is fixed – something you didn’t even dream of – you don’t tire of thanking and blessing the hands of the Cuban doctors who made that miracle possible, transforming my life. In spite of all the efforts I made to live a normal life, the constant abuse had my self-esteem in the pits; that has changed now, and together with my wife and my two children, I am completely happy. This confirms that God exists, and manifests himself where you least expect it.
Like the engineer, Socorro Perales Roco, 67, testifies that “miracles do exist.”
“I’m diabetic,” she says, “and I was going blind, because for people like me it is impossible to pay a private doctor for an operation, and at the health institutions there is no way to obtain rapid and adequate attention. I had cataracts in my eyes for many years; only someone who had experienced it knows what that means. In my home, I am at God’s mercy, because even though
I have five children, they are living their own lives. I understand that, and I try to keep myself going as much as I can. I try to survive in any way I can; I make tamales and sell whatever I can. Unfortunately, in recent years, with my eye problem, my situation was awful. Now, I thank God for having the operation, and even though I haven’t completely recovered, everything is going well.”
Regarding her experience in traveling to Cuba, she says if anything surprised her, it was the humanity of the doctors, nurses and social workers there.
“Really, it makes me so happy just to remember the affection and care they showed us; for them, we were not just case numbers, we were human beings whose lives could change if everything came out well in the operation and the attention they gave us. And they sure did achieve that, because by giving me back my sight, they gave me back a useful life, which will allow me to get up every day and work to be able to survive.”
Juana Facundo Viuda de Flores, 65 is a similar case; she does not cease speaking wonders about Operation Miracle.
“I have had diabetes for 24 years, and so I was losing my sight, and with that, life itself, because blindness not only keeps us from enjoying the beauty of life, but also from being useful, and having to depend on others to go out into the street or do housework, which was my case.”
“Even though I have social security,” she adds, “not much could be done, because with my clinical condition, there wasn’t much possibility of recovery. At my age, that really weighs you down — watching the days go by, and with each passing day, you are more vulnerable. That is the situation I was in when they told me about the campaign Cuba was carrying out for people like us. Today, thank God, I can see, and with that, at my age of 65, my hopes for a dignified life have returned.”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cuban Medical Assistance Abroad.

The presence of Cuban doctors on several continents was everyday news during the year 2005.

Under virtual siege from the US, this small Caribbean island has gone to great lengths to train personnel with the ethics and skills to effectively offer assistance in any corner of Earth.

This effort sharply contrasts with the war and indifference reining in so many places where the powerful impose their will to protect selfish economic interests.

There is a special additional merit. Cuba does not offer its surplus, but shares its best, even if it means belt tightening at home in order to aid others.

With that spirit, thousands of Cubans are currently volunteering their services in the most remote regions of the planet.

In Africa they are treating HIV-Aids patients in several countries. In Pakistan aiding earthquake victims. In Guatemala assisting communities battered by torrential rains and flooding during hurricane Stan. In the Caribbean, Cuban doctors are present during emergencies and often to fill in for other health professionals who have left their country for greener pastures in the North.

The Cuban doctors also have a key role in supporting the Barrio Adentro community health care program throughout Venezuela.

Within that program, the physicians identify low income venezuelans with eye problems and many of these are then offered free surgery on the island.

With the passage of hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast region of the United States and the government’s incompetence to handling the situation, the Henry Reeve International Medical
Brigade was created and their services immediately offered to Washington. Nearly 2,000 doctors waited on standby for weeks but the US never responded to the island’s offer.

Subsequently a large portion of the brigade was sent to Pakistan and Guatemala.

This monumental effort for others can only occur in a society like Cuba’s where the collective welfare takes precedence and human solidarity is a priority, a vision that goes beyond borders.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bolivians Applaud Cuban Aid
Bolivian organizations in solidarity with Cuba have highlighted the assistance of Cuban doctors who offer free medical care to low-income citizens in that Latin American nation.
In a press communiqué to the journal El Diario, parents of Bolivian youngsters who have been granted full scholarships in Cuba expressed their gratitude for the island's help.
In the article, they note that the Cuban medical team working in Bolivia —made up by 1,719 doctors— has assisted more than 776,000 patients and saved 1,326 lives.
According to the Prensa Latina news agency, Bolivians also commended the donation from Cuba of medicines and high-tech equipment provided to 20 hospitals. They also praised the work of the island’s medical personnel serving in nine Bolivian provinces.
Seven ophthalmologic centers have been opened in Bolivia as part of “Operation Miracle,” an eye-surgery program promoted by Cuba and Venezuela. Thanks to this humanitarian initiative, over 10,900 Bolivians who suffered from curable eye diseases have recovered their sight.
The island's cooperation with Bolivia in the fields of healthcare and education stems from agreements signed by Bolivia's President Evo Morales, Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in Havana this past April.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Cuban Revolution:

Solidarity for any country of the world

By these days, determined and little serious international means of diffusion have been dedicated to spread certain lies related to the Cuban Revolution work. Nevertheless, they omit true facts that furrow the ocean, because of its greatness, humanism: for example, they do not speak about Cuban contribution to health. Why don’t they mention those developed countries where the single objective is to look for resources and increase the inequality and the abuse?

The Medical Collaboration of Cuba began in 1963 when the first Brigade was sent to Argelia integrated by doctors, dentists, nurses and technicians. The greater expression of solidarity and internationalism of the medical collaboration of Cuba arose at the end of 1998 after the Mitch hurricane beat in several countries of Central America, mainly Honduras and Guatemala.

This natural disaster left hundreds of dead and missing people and caused terrible consequences for the economic and social infrastructure of these regions.

After this situation, Cuba responded immediately with the disposition to send medical personnel and to help without any premium as long as necessary apart of the contribution to technical equipment and medicines.

Taking into account the magnitude of the situation in these countries the Cuban government began to develop the Integral Program of Health for Central America and the Caribbean, which had been whipped shortly before by other meteorological phenomena, spreading to some countries of Africa and Asia.

This Integral Program of Health included the free sending of health professionals and technicians dedicated fundamentally to the primary attention, mainly in the countryside, to treat all the population without distinction of race, creed and ideology.

At the moment Cuba has medical collaboration relationship with more than half hundred of countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, the Australian Continent and Europe, with great social impact in the improvement of the health indicators and in the direct attention to the population with higher necessities in which the doctors impel the promotion and prevention of diverse diseases.

At the moment, more than 24 thousand workers in health field are in 40 countries by means of the Cuban medical collaboration, that in addition has contributed to the formation of almost four thousand professionals and equal number of technicians and to the creation of nine medicine schools in other latitudes.
From 1963 to 2005 the program of medical collaboration of the Island included to 101 countries, in which worked 132 thousand 383 employees of the public health of the so called “La mayor de las Antillas”.

Eight years after the Integral Program of Health was created, more than one hundred thousand lives have been saved; patients who would died in case they would not received medical attention on time.