Venezuela’s economic crisis has put its health system in danger. As the country experiences critical shortages of medicine, thousands of patients have been left to fend for themselves.
CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas explains.
Venezuela's economic crisis squeezes country's healthcare systemVenezuela’s economic crisis has put its health system in danger. As the country experiences critical shortages of medicine, thousands of patients have been left to fend for themselves. CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas explains.
Every morning just after his alarm rings, Pedro Maldonado reaches for the prescription medications that help him manage bipolar disorder. Like thousands of mental health patients in Venezuela, he struggles every day to make sure his supply of medication doesn’t run out.
“Most of the time, I can’t find my pills at any price. Getting my medicines from abroad is impossible because the government doesn’t have any humanitarian agreements to help us receive medicines from other countries,” Maldonado, said. With only a 10-day supply left, Pedro spends his time going from pharmacy to pharmacy across the Venezuelan capital to look for more.
According to the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation, 40 pharmacies across the country have closed their doors during the past few last months. Local and international organizations started offering group therapy, but mental health professionals said that’s no substitute for medication.
“Most of the time, we rely on the solidarity of others here. We receive pills from people who donate them, and there are a few donations from abroad, but it’s not easy,” CATESFAM Foundation President, Maribel Ferrer, said.
Rolling power blackouts, shortages in medicine and medical supplies and the exodus of health workers have forced many of Venezuela’s mental wards to release their patients. The consequences can be tragic. The consequences can be tragic.
“Suicides have increasingly grown more frequent here over the last months, as many mentally ill people cannot get the right treatment for their conditions,” Dr. Wadalberto Rodriguez, President of the Venezuelan Psychiatric Association, said.
While the Venezuelan government denies that its public hospitals are suffering from shortages of medicine, doctors, patients and their families are pleading for help – saying the situation is increasingly desperate.