Spanish – The hope for the ill children in Venezuela is agonizing in the face of the closure of the precarious health services that provided them with care. The hospital crisis under the Chavista regime suffocated the neurology area of the J.M. de Los Ríos Pediatric Hospital, and today, 500 children see their dreams of growing up healthy and becoming firefighters, police, or astronauts vanish.
They have brain tumors, hydrocephalus, cancer, and other tragic diagnoses. The response of the authorities to the structural deficiencies, the scarcity of medical supplies, and the water and electricity problems that triggered the shutdown of the center’s functions is conspicuously absent.
The elevators and equipment do not work either. The situation is unsustainable for both patients and doctors who only receive three or four dollars per month. All this is reported by TVV Noticias through its Twitter account and confirmed by Monitor Salud through the same platform.
El servicio de neurología del principal Hospital pediátrico del país, el JM de los Ríos, cerró sus puertas dejando al menos, 500 niños sin consultas ni tratamientos.
— TVV Noticias (@TVVnoticias) January 19, 2021
A humanitarian emergency
Katherine Martínez, director of the NGO Prepara Familia, has witnessed the deterioration of the J.M. de Los Ríos center since 2016. Every day she faces the “deficient nutrition” that sick children receive. For her, it is “a complex humanitarian emergency where chronic patients and women suffer exponentially,” she told El País.
She does not lie. Before the paralysis of the neurology service of the J.M. de Los Ríos Hospital, the neurology area, the cardiology services, and the intensive care unit closed for the same reasons.
La salud en Venezuela está en crisis.
Tres servicios han cerrado en el hospital infantil JM de los Ríos, el último fue el servicio de neurología que atendía a más de 500 niños#HospitalesEnComa pic.twitter.com/upjgpv8Vhu
— Monitor Salud (@MonitorSaludVE) January 16, 2021
Another service that is in the same direction is the area of pediatric neurosurgery that is maintained only with four adjunct doctors, Apunto reports.
According to the BBC, “there is a lack of many medicines in the hospitals, and the hygiene conditions are increasingly precarious. Doctors warn that the only thing they can do is to help patients die instead of live.”
At the same time that the hospital crisis is intensifying, Nicolás Maduro is diverting resources to other nations. He sent Brazil 14,000 individual oxygen pumps, equivalent to 136,000 liters, to mitigate the hospital collapse in Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon.
It is incomprehensible. This shipment “consisting of six tanks” would be delivered in the border area of Santa Elena de Uairén to the neighboring authorities as a sign that “Venezuela must give its life if necessary for solidarity, love,” reported the German agency Deutsche Welle
But on the same day that the aid was ordered, a group of biker paramedics, who work independently and are known as “Road Angels,” reported that they had been looking for a hospital to admit a coronavirus patient for 14 hours without success because they did not have “quotas,” the agency reported.
Although he was later admitted to the José María Vargas Hospital, one of the main hospitals in Caracas, the doctors at the center later recommended that he be transferred to another hospital because they did not have oxygen.
The patient ended up being treated in a field hospital that enabled the regime in the Poliedro of Caracas, a venue designed for large events in the world of sports and entertainment.
What are the priorities?
The J.M. de Los Ríos Hospital, the main pediatric reference in Venezuela, has become today a paradigm of the national tragedy and the mirror of the revolutionary management. Already in 2014, the Comptroller of the Republic (Chavista organ) recognized the deterioration of its structure and the failures in both supplies and equipment in addition to the lack of doctors, points out El Mundo.
At that time, the crisis was just beginning, one year after Maduro’s arrival to the presidency. Lawyer Carlos Trapani, a children’s rights advocate and member of the Community Learning Center (Cecodap), says the regime has failed to protect children.
“It has always been alleged that there are restrictions on resources, access to banking, blockades; but irresponsibly, a great number of millions of dollars are announced for the purchase of machine guns and military uniforms,” he declares to El País.
Where are the priorities? He asks himself and immediately responds, “it is not a matter of money, not even of problems with the international banking system. It is a matter of disposition.”
The DW agency analyzes it and concludes that “doctors and nurses in Venezuela must defend themselves from a state that instead of sending medicines, sends armed militias to their hospitals.”
A socialist deterioration
Deutsche Welle outlined the answers to how Venezuela came to this situation if, in 1962, it had more beds than Germany and had defeated malaria earlier than Italy. The agency cites the National Hospital Survey 2018, which states that of 18300 hospital beds available in 40 public hospitals, 33 % are inoperative. And, concerning malaria, Venezuela registered one million cases in 2019.
There are more terrible data. Luisana Melo, the only Chavista Health Minister to appear before Parliament in 20 years, recognized in 2016 that 31% of the patients admitted to public hospitals die.
The health sector began to worsen in 2004 when Hugo Chávez preferred to pay 34 billion USD to the Cuban regime to import doctors from the island rather than invest money in improving the national health system.
Now, when it comes to medicines, Venezuela is largely dependent on those entering the country “without any controls, from Iran, Palestine, India, Russia, and smuggled in from Colombia,” the DW article concludes.