Venezuela’s health care system is about to collapse in the midst of an economic crisis.


Venezuela’s health care system is about to collapse in the economic crisis.

The death this week of a former major league baseball player in venezuela has renewed fears of a growing health crisis amid economic and political turmoil in Latin America.

Former pitchers for the Colorado Rockies and the Florida marlins died of pneumonia on Tuesday. He fell ill in December, but it was difficult to find antibiotics to treat the disease. Kavahar’s drugs eventually arrived from abroad, but he relapsed, returned to the hospital on Monday and died the next day.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has banned an upcoming presidential election for opposition leaders.




MERIDA, VENEZUELA – JANUARY 29, 2016: Patients rest at the public hospital in Merida, a sad place where news reports said there had been no water for days to wash the operating rooms. PHOTO: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

The Venezuelan medical association estimates that the country is suffering from an 85 per cent shortage of medicines during the economic crisis, with severe hyperinflation and food shortages having serious consequences.

Francisco valencia, the director of Codevida, a public-health advocacy group, says venezuela’s entire health-care system is about to collapse. Some hospitals are short of electricity and more than 13,000 doctors have left venezuela in the past four years to seek better opportunities.

“They didn’t provide food for the hospital patients,” valencia told Here&Now Peter O’dowd. “They don’t have proper medical supplies to take care of people in emergencies like gloves, just as they need all the basics in an emergency.”

According to the medical association, 90 percent of other medical supplies and medicines are used to treat more serious diseases such as cancer.

Valencia says the shortage has forced venezuelans to look for drugs on the black market. Even if they find the right drugs, often smuggled from Colombia and Brazil, and may be out of date, most can’t afford them.

The crisis affected valencia, who relied on drugs for a kidney transplant.

“I haven’t received any medicine since last August,” he said. “Now I’m taking expired drugs and my transplant is in danger.”

Venezuela’s President nicolas maduro has rejected humanitarian aid and halted deliveries of medicines and emergency supplies. Government data showed a 30 percent increase in infant mortality and a 76 percent increase in malaria infections in 2016, Reuters reported.

“So when most countries are in crisis, they get aid from other countries, from ngos,” Hannah Dreier of the Associated Press told NPR in 2016. “But venezuela has always refused to accept donations from other countries and has actually brought back the drugs that people donated in places like the United States, rather than letting them in. ”

Venezuela is calling for a presidential election in the face of a worsening economic crisis.



Drug prices have soared with the prices of food and other basic necessities. The international monetary fund expects inflation to soar to 13 per cent this year and the economy to contract by 15 per cent.

Earlier this week, the government announced it was abandoning one of two official exchange rates for food and drug imports, Reuters reported. The change in policy may encourage companies to import more goods, but critics say it will not work because of the country’s lack of hard currency.

Eliminating the exchange rate “is a step in the right direction because it helps correct currency distortions,” Asdrubal Oliveros of Ecoanalitica, a local consultancy, told Reuters. “But without the dollar, it would be more complicated.”

Venezuela has been trying to strengthen its currency since its oil-rich economy collapsed in 2014. According to the Associated Press, the minimum wage for many venezuelans is now $3.

Maduro has criticized the country’s growing crisis of foreign economic sanctions and said the United States is working to eliminate Venezuelan socialism, Reuters reported. Presidential elections are scheduled for April 30, earlier than usual, but venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court last week banned the main opposition from running.


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