Venezuela’s recession is in its fourth year and shows no signs of slowing.
Inflation hit 500% in 2016 and is expected to rise to 1,660% in 2017.
Breadlines are a common sight, and hospitals are unable to provide basic services due to a crippling lack of supplies.
The health crisis has disproportionately affected children and babies. Venezuela’s infant mortality increased by 9% between 2014 and 2015, and jumped another 30% between 2015 and 2016.
According to the most recent National Survey of Hospitals:
• 63% of hospitals report problems with their water system
• 75% of hospitals are in need of medical supplies
• 97% of services provided are faulty
At least half of the lights have gone out at the Clinical University Hospital of Caracas. In March, the facility was forced to cancel most scheduled surgeries for lack of running water.
Antibiotics are a main concern, and some have lost limbs due to infection.
“We don’t have antibiotics and it’s difficult to get them. Patients need to visit centers and pharmacies looking for the specific one they need,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jorge Vizcaya.
The Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela estimates that up to 85% of drugs are unavailable in the beleaguered country. Some doctors have even started using veterinary medications.
On Friday, President Nicolas Maduro asked the UN for help: “I have asked the support of the United Nations to deal with the economic and social wounds that have affected our people,” he said. “The UN has the world’s most advanced and complete plans to recover the productive capacity of the pharmaceutical industry.”
Venezuela’s government is so strapped for cash that it can’t afford to import basic goods like food and medicine. This is the direct result of years of socialist policies, corruption, heavy spending on poorly run programs, and a fatal dependence on oil.
Even so, Maduro continues to blame Venezuela’s problems on “the economic war and the fall in oil prices.”
Editor’s note: The Venezuelan people are suffering badly now. I find myself hoping a coup is in the works, but I get the feeling any reasonable replacement has long since been suppressed, and unreasonable options will ensue. Any UN help under the current strategy of government will make the ultimate change of government ever more bloody. Look for elevations in violence.