One of the biggest losers from dropping oil prices is Venezuela. The country depends upon crude exports, and its reserves are being eaten away by soaring inflation. The impact is everywhere, especially for doctors who are trying to source vital supplies.
For months now, Venezuelan doctors had to be content with crucial medical supply shipments being placed on hold or becoming non-existent. It’s a crisis with no clear end in sight as medical shortages are becoming more prevalent. CCTV America’s Martin Markovits reports.
Dropped oil prices impact Venezuela's medical suppliesFor months now, Venezuelan doctors had to be content with crucial medical supply shipments being placed on hold or becoming non-existent. It's a crisis with no clear end in sight as medical shortages are becoming more prevalent. CCTV America's Martin Markovits reports.
Dr. Aquiles Sala can’t get the materials he needs to help patients fight heart attacks. Medical supply importers can only bring in 40 percent of necessary medicines doctors’ need. Shortages of food sometimes outrank the fulfillment of doctors’ requests, like stents, anesthesia, and supplies to fight cancer. However, because of Venezuela’s rigid currency control system, many businesses are left with a shortage of dollars to import goods, which means that medical supplies aren’t considered as pressing.
“We’ve seen, in the last two weeks, the priorities that the government has set to authorize the use of dollars,” Dr. Aquiles Sala said. “Currency exchange officials have informed us, on a consistent basis, that they can’t free up the dollars to buy medical supplies.”
The government called a health emergency two months ago in the face of the medical supply shortage. However, far more problems may be ahead for Venezuela’s crumbling economy. Oil prices crashed to a four-year low on the back of worsening inflation.
“Venezuela will suffer a lot, because it doesn’t have another source of revenue in dollars to compensate for the drop in the price of oil,” said economist Jose Guerra. “There’s certainly going to be more shortages of food, medicine and hospital supplies. It’s likely the shortages will continue.”
Venezuela resisted that claim. Venezuela President Nicholas Maduro, standing inside a warehouse full of contraband medical supplies, blamed critical shortages on smugglers and hoarders. He’s vowed to stiffen penalties for the crimes.
“You’re going to pay for your own good on account of yourself, and with jail time, you’re going to pay,” Maduro said. “I swear you’re going to pay for the damage you’re doing to Venezuela.”
There’s also talk that the OPEC nation won’t meet its debt obligations, which President Nicolas Maduro quickly said was not true. The Venezuelan calls it part of a campaign by foreign news agencies to stir fears of default in order to destabilize his socialist government.
For more insight into the global oil situation, CCTV America’s Michelle Makori interviewed Carl Larry, who is the president of Oil Outlooks and Opinions.