Lack of medicine, doctors perpetuates Venezuela’s national crisis

Latin America

Lack of medicine, doctors perpetuates Venezuela's national crisis

The crisis in Venezuela is having a drastic effect on its public health care system. The maternal mortality rate soared 66 percent just last year, the infant mortality rate is even higher than Syria’s.

Meanwhile, the country struggles with a lack of doctors, many choosing to flee the country.

CGTN’s Stephen Gibbs reports from Caracas.

Inside a Venezuelan public hospital, there is a barely any running water, a lack of cleanliness, and hardly any medicine. The worst days have no anesthetic in the entire hospital. The worst shortage, however, is that of doctors.

The Venezuelan Federation of Doctors has said that 16,000 doctors have left the country in the last 12 years.

Efraim Vegas, the head of Caracas University Hospital’s resident doctor association, has tried to persuade his colleagues to stay. It hasn’t been easy given just how little they earn.

“We here in Venezuela are earning less than the minimum salary of any country of Latin America, or of the world. We earn like one dollar, each day,” Vegas said.

Dr. Carlos Leon is trying to leave Venezuela. He said it has not been an easy decision, but would prefer to stay.

“It is not easy for us as medical doctors to be able to practice in another country. It is usually two or three years on average to be able to be a doctor elsewhere. So, probably during those two or three years you have to work in a diner or do some other thing than we prepared ourselves for as doctors,” Leon said.

Importing medicine and cleaning up hospitals could be done in a matter of weeks, but persuading the doctors to come back could take far longer.