Venezuela – the health sector crisis

  • February 17, 2015
  • News

medicinasescasezIt is perhaps not the first time we hear about the scarcity problem of basic products in Venezuela. The situation continues, and the problem of scarcity has reached its more critical point. This, together with long lines to purchase any commodity, be it food, medicine, items of personal hygiene, among many others.

Regarding antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), the situation has not improved at all.

Alberto Nieves, activist and Executive Director of Acción Ciudadana Contra el Sida (ACCSI) in Venezuela, commented that “the problem of the shortage of ARVs is complex for the Venezuelan Government, since they can’t admit it before the whole continent. Otherwise they’ll ruin their speech, in which they say they “guarantee” the health of all Venezuelans.”

One possible way would be the intermediation of organizations such as Mercosur and UNASUR, so that they can offer us technical cooperation. But it is a pity to see how the Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group on HIV and AIDS (HTCG) does give any response at all on the subject of the shortages in Venezuela. “The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) seems to be muzzled, we can see how they make efforts together with UNAIDS, but relationships can be strained and difficult because of the official hypersensitivity.” said Mr. Nieves.

“In Venezuela everything is polarized, and it is a transverse axis for everything. It even infects our everyday life. Anything that you say, denounce and criticize generates aggression, attack, discredit and even criminalization against NGOs and Human Rights activists working in the field of HIV and AIDS”. Commented Mr. Nieves.

Now the oil producing country faces the total lack of condoms in public and private pharmacies, which affects the efforts of NGOs to educate the population and protect individuals not only against HIV, but against any sexually transmitted disease.

On the other hand, the Government has begun investigations due to the lack of ARVs and condoms. However, the result of these “investigations” are still unknown. Several activists consider that this allegations are just a “smokescreen” to hide the real situation.

“They talk about an alleged drug smuggling, but how could it be possible? The country is out of medicines, medical supplies and condoms. The Government controls everything, the military control the borders, ministries buy, approve, transport, distribute and deliver the medicines to the public health system. Then, it means they are the problem.” Commented once again, Mr. Nieves.

The shortage is such in Venezuela that there is no disposable diapers for children or adults, toilet paper, detergent, all kind of soaps, shampoo, coffee, milk, sugar, margarine, and corn or wheat flour. Medicines such as ibuprofen, or loratadine, are impossible to find, and not to mention other medicines that are usually not so easily accessible, among other basic items. The crisis is total.