The H1N1-mitable Minister of Health

My hands are clean
My hands are clean

(A guest post by loyal reader Aquiles)

The Venezuelan Ministress of Health Isabel Iturria has weighed in on the outbreak of H1N1 virus across Venezuela, the critical shortage of vaccines in the country, and the complete inadequacy of distribution mechanisms of said vaccine – if, that is, the ministry had any to distribute. Dr. Iturria, who is in fact a bona fide medical doctor (with a degree and everything!), electrified this humble observer by apprising me, the country, and quite frankly the medical community worldwide of two groundbreaking facts.

The first, which offers some stunning insight into the critical mind of socialist healthcare (brought to you by the same people who brought you this)- is that people get sick and die every day, for all sorts of reasons. This bombshell is, I suppose, meant to underline the inane capitalist selfishness of single-causality group-think that would lead anyone to  consider this tepid outbreak of a Pandemic Class Virus as a crisis.

With a running reported tally of 27 dead and nearly 1,000 confirmed cases, it is not hard to see her point. As she reminded us, H1N1, is presently affecting only 1,000 comrades. So … why the long faces? There have been over 8,000,000 cases of other acute respiratory illnesses in the past 4 years alone. And you are still statistically much likelier to die from an errant bullet over the weekend. Relajate, ¿cual es tu drama chico?

The problem is that in Venezuela the reported numbers represent only a small fraction of likely cases.

Having actually suffered from this disease, and having had the joy of spending a week in a class 3 quarantine containment facility (blissfully in a country with an actual healthcare system) I can tell you one thing – this thing is not pleasant.

The reported secondary attack rates for H1N1 are about 26% according to the CDC, meaning that roughly 1 in 4 people who come into contact with an affected individual are likely to get it. That means that you can expect that 1,000 actually reported cases will rise steeply (reported cases have quadrupled in the past week alone), since the asymptomatic period of transmission for the disease is around 4 days.

So what is the broke and broken healthcare system in Venezuela to do at the hands of a pandemic class virus now unleashed upon an underserved populous?

They wash their hands clean, literally.

According to Dr. Iturre being vaccinated is not bad per se, but the really effective course of treatment is good old soap suds. So let’s do it Venezuela, now’s the time to wash your hands .

Just don’t expect to have any paper towels to dry them with.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.