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The inauguration of a new eye care center in the southern city of Machala, with Cuban staff and equipment donated by the Island, is a demonstration of the success of the Operation Miracle program in Ecuador, reports Prensa Latina news agency.

Cuban Public Health Minister Jose Ramon Balaguer attended the ceremony and praised the results of the program in Latin America where over 700,000 people have undergone eye surgery.

Balaguer noted that there are some 40 million people with eye ailments in the world, and that 5 million of them live in Latin America.

"That is why it is so important to inaugurate this new clinic," said Balaguer. With the name Cuba-Machala Solidarity, the clinic has two operating rooms, with 19 Cuban specialists, among general practitioners, surgeons and nurses.

Balaguer said the new facility shows the growing cooperation between Ecuador and Cuba and is the third of its type operating in the Andean nation.

The Cuban official was joined by Carlos Farquez, mayor of Machala, the capital of El Oro province; the Cuban ambassador to that nation, Benigno Perez; the general secretary of the vice presidency of Ecuador, Galo Cevallos; and over 1,000 people.

The other two similar clinics have been operating in Ecuador for a year. The first opened in Latacunga in the central province of Cotopaxi and the other in the coastal area of Santa Elena. So far, the centers have performed a combined total of 16,200 eye operations free of charge.

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