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Venezuela’s Patients Suffer as Medicine Barely Enough to Keep Hospitals Running

By: Sabrina Martín - @SabrinaMartinR - Jul 18, 2016, 4:15 pm
The scarcity on supplies and medicine is killing Venezuelan kids (Punto muerto noticias)
The scarcity on supplies and medicine is killing Venezuelan kids (Punto muerto noticias)

EspañolChildren are dying in Venezuelan hospitals amid critical scarcity of medical supplies.

CNN recently documented the danger patient lives are put in as a result.

Its a tough report to sit through, as it shows desperate mothers suffering without medicine in deplorable hospital conditions across the country.

Children with cancer and chronic diseases, among other things, debate between life and death. President Nicolás Maduro’s adminstration refuses to admit that the situation is a humanitarian crisisthat might lead to aid being delivered to sick patients.

CNN reported on at least four children who died in hospitals from cancer after not being able to access necessary medications. The few medications that are available can only be found on the black market at huge markups that nearly no one can afford.

In the same report, Doctor Huniandes Urbina showed the disastrous conditions of the Venezuelan hospitals. A member of the Venezuelan Pediatric Society, he said many of patients are in dire condition. Many of the hospitals lack enough staff members or air conditioning, while being full of leaks and abandoned halls.

President of the Venezuelan Medical Federation (FMV) Douglas León Natera said in June that the scarcity of medicine in pharmacies and hospitals in the country had reached 90 percent. According to the specialist, the most critical point was the lack of medicine.

Secretary General for the Organization of American States Luis Almagro expressed his concern over the commotion and situation children in Venezuelan hospitals face.

“What hits harder is the human situation, specifically the children — the health of infants that haven’t been able to leave hospitals for lack of medicine,” he said.

Almagro said the hospital situation in Venezuela is a “harsh blow for any human sensibility.”

President of FMV León Natera said the country’s hospitals are operating at barely five percent.

“Government officials are laughing at the doctors, at the pain and at the suffering of citizens. And then go to OAS to say a load of lies,” he said.

Natera added that in the Children’s Hospital J.M. de los Ríos there are 5,600 patients still waiting for surgeries and said “the future of Venezuela is dying there.”

Health Minister Luisana Melo told Venezuelan media there is “only a 25 percent medicine scarcity.”

“There is no such deficit, only lack of one medicine, which is about to get here in a week,” Melo said in reference to HIV regulation medicines.

“It doesn’t matter if we don’t have Tachipirin or Atamel, we have to look for the active ingredients, which is what cures the disease,” she said.

Venezuela strikes international agreements

The Special Rapporteur on the right to health reminded the Venezuelan government of article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that forces nations to facilitate essential medicines and to adopt legal and administrative measures to guarantee access to those medicines. Venezuela ratified this Covenant May 10, 1978.

“As part of the right to health, governments are obligated to adopt the necessary legal and administrative measures to guarantee access to essential medicines,” the Rapporteur said in a July 20, 2015 press release that was made public almost a year later.

The UN recently expressed its concern over the worsening of the under supply that it started to denounce in 2014. It also mentioned the harassing of activists that have been trying to denounce the problem in international bodies.

“We would like to express our serious concern over the alleged worsening of the under supply of medical supplies and medicines,” wrote the Rapporteur to the Venezuelan government. “This has a serious impact in the right to health of the population. In particular, we’re concerned over the lack of treatment with Prednisona, essential for transplants, lupus, arthritis and cancer. Likewise, we would like to express our serious concern over the alleged harassing, intimidation and retaliations by public authorities against defendants to the right to health.”

Sabrina Martín Sabrina Martín

Sabrina Martín is a Venezuelan journalist, commentator, and editor based in Valencia with experience in corporate communication. Follow @SabrinaMartinR.

In Venezuela, Pets Are the Next to Go for Struggling Families

By: Sabrina Martín - @SabrinaMartinR - Jul 18, 2016, 1:27 pm
Venezuelans need not only to deal with their own afflictions and fight for food.  Now they have to go through hundreds of shopping malls looking for cheap dog or cat food (El Comercio)

EspañolAs thousands of Venezuelans cross the Colombian border in search of food and medicine, social media has taken note of another victim of the country's humanitarian crisis that doesn't have the same control over its fate: pets.Defenseless cats and dogs are very often a low priority for families who are looking to keep their children from starving. One Venezuelan posted this message on Facebook asking for help. My name is Burkin, I'm a Golden Retriever and I'm 3 years old. I'm a noble, docile, intelligent and caring dog, I like to play and be held. I have a family in a difficult financial situation, who don't have enough to support me.  They're too old and can't even afford their own medicines. They don't want to kick me to the street, they know how terrible it is to wander around without food, love, with only beatings, sticks and kicks. But I'm so skinny I don't have energy to run and bark. That's why I ask God to put an angel in my way that can rescue me, adopt me and give me a new life. Please, help me sharing this message, so that my guardian angel may come soon. Many thanks. Many families chimed in saying they did not have a way to feed their pets either. Read more: Venezuela: Maduro Hands over Economic Power to Defense Minister Read more: Venezuela’s Socialist-Induced Food Shortages Create Exodus into Colombia Venezuela has the world's highest inflation, and with low wages and food scarcity surpassing 80 percent, it's easy to see how pets aren't getting the food they need. Many Venezuelans not only deal with their own struggles for food, but must scavenge shopping malls looking for dog or cat food they can afford. A bag of dog food is about 11 days of minimum wage work. That's almost one bag of dog food for each bimonthly payment. The Venezuelan Society for Animal Health (Avisa) said pet abandonment has risen by 30 percent. This is mostly attributed to the financial resources required to support a pet. Likewise, they claim there are more adoption signs and less people interested in adopting. "I can't pay for my dog's food," pet owner Andrea Sanchez said. "I'd rather give them rice or leftovers, I'm not thinking of abandoning them yet.  I don't want to think in the moment I have to sacrifice them." Venezuelan families are often more concerned with meeting the most basic of needs: diapers for children, milk and medicine for grandparents. Man's Best Friend simply does not fit into the equation during such tough times. // There are over 70 animal protection agencies in the country that give shelter, food and medical attention to animals, many of which are trying to rise to the occasion of this increase in abandoned dogs. Asodepa, a Foundation for the Defense and Protections of Animals in Maracaibo said the main cause of abandonment is families leaving the country without time to look for a new owner. The Asoguau Foundation in the state of Carabobo said unexpected puppies, sudden moving and financial problems were the main reason for abandonment. Home-cooked pet food The pet situation is so dire that the Venezuelan government has started workshops to teach pet owners how to prepare home cooked meals for their pets. For example, with sardines and vegetables like carrots, cassava and moringa, combined with liver and entrails you can make a cookie dough. However, carrots, yucca and sardines all have a very elevated cost in the Venezuelan market. They also recommend collecting the leftovers of ground bones from butchers.

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