Access to a free, humanized healthcare has been a promise of the Revolution since its very beginning, materializing in controversial measures that go from the creation of a feeble Misión Barrio Adentro, to the graduation of poorly trained “doctors”.
The latest gimmick? Plan Parto Humanizado (Humanized Childbirth Plan).
“Our wish is that Venezuelan women go through a happy, loving childbirth, more humane and less mercantilistic, allowing everyone involved, from doctors, technicians, midwives, families and the community, the fostering of a more humane homeland.”
See, talks of humanized childbirth aren’t new. In 2012, the then ombudsman Gabriela Ramírez, now Maduro’s open detractor, published a 61-page document criticizing physicians, the “discriminating attitude of health care providers” and the “medicalization (that’s the actual word she used) of mothers, to allegedly help the delivery.” A true ode to hypocrisy, placing all responsibility on health care providers, ignoring that it’s impossible to have a “humanized labor” when conditions are not provided at state-run facilities.
In 2014, PAHO/WHO joined efforts with Venezuela’s Health Ministry to print 4,000 copies of guidelines for childbirth attention for every hospital to operate under, but while it was actually well thought out, little was done to ensure that delivery rooms were fit for humanized labor.
Women today must buy everything themselves, including gloves, all medication, sutures, umbilical clamps, formula and local anesthetics, in case episiotomy is needed.
Women today must buy everything themselves, including gloves, all medication, sutures, umbilical clamps, formula and local anesthetics, in case episiotomy is needed. Epidural anesthesia (injected directly on the spinal cord) is common practice in developed countries, but not in Venezuela, as delivery rooms lack the basic logistics to make it viable.
As for privacy, this picture made so many headlines a few weeks ago, that the government’s propaganda apparatus went on a full-blown witch hunt, leading to the detention of UCLA’s med students and hospital personnel.
A Low for Venezuelan Obstetrics
“Childbirth in Venezuela was humanized” says Dr. Mauricio Vargas, my 85 year old obstetrics professor.
Back in the 60’s, when he was appointed as maternólogo (as there were no officially trained obstetricians in Mérida), every woman in the delivery room was treated with profound respect. “We’d treat every pregnant woman with a smile, we’d provide psychological profilaxis so she was ready for childbirth. The patient could be wealthy or poor, it made no difference.”
To him, these are the worse times Venezuelan obstetrics have ever faced. “Women can’t get a proper room, or even shower before going into labor. Hospitals lack the infrastructure.”
He reminisces of a time when every pregnant woman got nutritional advice at prenatal consults, and had her adequate calcium intake ensured. “Everything went bad after attention got massified and the investment on health lagged.”
Under this communist, self deemed feminist regime, women’s rights have taken a massive hit; from scarcity of contraceptive methods to a tight anti-abortion law, choosing how and when to start a family is not an option for most women. At private hospitals, humanized childbirth is guaranteed, if you can pay for it. As a result, women are crossing the border to give birth in Colombia.
The most humane thing the government could do is make an actual effort towards diminishing maternal mortality rates
What’s really serious, though, is reported on the latest national Epidemiologic Bulletin: there’s a 65% increase in maternal mortality rates, from 2015 to 2016, with a steady 12% growth each year, hard evidence of just how bad the health crisis is.
Exactly how Maduro’s new plan is fixing this mess seems unclear. After all, the Revolution’s way of fighting the patriarchy is naming a number of useless organizations after women, and making sure the gurneys in the delivery rooms are pink. Because that’ll suppress the nightmare of giving birth in the worst health crisis Venezuela has ever seen. Women just love pink.
The most humane thing the government could do is make an actual effort towards diminishing maternal mortality rates, and making sure doctors have the supplies they need to care for women’s health. No fancy words, just do your job; if healthcare is competent, it’s humane.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.