A fortnight ago, one major public hospital of Western Caracas (the Periférico de Coche) was close to shutting down. Doctors and patients staged a loud protest from both inside and outside the hospital.
24 hours later, Nicolás Maduro himself made a “surprise inspection”. The Chavernment took over control of the hospital from themselves, as the Health Ministry was already in charge.
But Coche isn’t the only Caracas hospital with problems: the personnel at the Perez Carreño hospital (helmed by the national social security insitute, IVSS) staged their own protest days later over the lack of supplies and faulty equipment. Instead of getting a visit from the Vice-President, they got one from National Guard soldiers.
While the Barrio Adentro program gets all the attention, public hospitals have been neglected for years in the capital. The quality of service has declined to the point that only half of their beds are currently funtional. Doctors have fled the public health system, choosing to either join private clinics here or leave the country.
The Venezuelan private health sector has taken on a bigger role: last year, they reached a special deal with a group of public entities called the Interinstitutional Health Alliance (AIS) which includes PDVSA, CANTV and other state companies.
But the one-year deal has expired and its renewal is in jeopardy, because members of the AIS owes a lot to private health centers. The AIS wants to renegotiate the deal and they have put pressure with their own “demostrations” all around the country.
What else can you expect from a public health system that gets less money in the National Budget that the multiple debt payments of the Republic?