State persecution of Venezuelan doctors

The Venezuelan health system has been in crisis since 1999 after Hugo Chávez came to power, when he implemented his socialist regime. However, this complicated situation has increased in recent months due to the Venezuelan State’s persecution of health personnel, as Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela, announced at the end of May that he would deploy a group of secret inspectors in all hospitals. from the country to “go head-on against the mafias” that affect public institutions.

According to Maduro, the “mafias” ask patients to purchase medical supplies on the foreign market, in order to be able to irregularly withdraw the products found in the hospital warehouse and subsequently market them illegally.

However, Douglas León Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federationoffered a press conference last Tuesday, June 21, where he rejected the persecution and prosecution of members of the medical union in the country’s hospitals.

“From the Medical Federation we have the obligation to tell Maduro that we reject the accusations against the medical personnel of the hospitals, where the situation is quite complicated. We demand respect for the medical profession because we are not gangsters”, León Natera stated while asking that the directors of the assistance centers be audited, since they “are the ones who receive resources and the few supplies that arrive, if they arrive at all. No to doctors who bend over backwards, working with their fingernails, to provide patient care.”

The criminalization of health personnel

In fact, at the beginning of June, members of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) detained two doctors from the University Hospital of Maracaibo, in the state of Zulia (HUM), for allegedly having asked a patient’s relatives for supplies to carry out a surgical operation. emergency and for alleged abduction of others.

María Inés Elías, a first-year resident of Colombian nationality, and Rafael Briceño, a fourth-year resident of Venezuela, were charged on June 9 with the crimes of fraudulent embezzlement and conspiracy, when their only intention was to save the life of a person who was carrying More than a year and a half waiting for surgery to remove the tumor that bulged her abdomen like that of a woman eight months pregnant.

For his part, León Natera reported that these arrests have spread to states such as Monagas, Sucre, Aragua, Lara and Apure, acts cataloged by Ana Rosario Contreras, president of the College of Nurses of the Capital District (Caracas) as a pattern to hide the responsibility of the State in terms of provision of medicines, supplies, personnel and infrastructure in hospitals.

How much does Venezuela invest in its health system?

In this context, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Médicos Unidos Venezuela, published a graph based on the World Health Statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021. In it they declare that “Venezuela is the country with the lowest health spending on the continent, even below Haiti. While countries with more public spending on health invest up to 20%, Venezuela reaches 1.4%”.

According to these data, the “real cause of the lack of supplies” in the country’s hospitals is due to the lack of government investment in a quality public system.

In addition, the semi-annual report of the National Hospital Survey revealed that the shortage of supplies in the emergency rooms of health centers reached 46.8% on average. The shortage has hit the operating rooms the hardest, where the lack of medicines, materials and instruments rose to 71.5%, while the laboratory, x-ray, ultrasound, tomography and magnetic resonance services are around 79% inoperative at the national level.

Meanwhile, the second report of the NGO Observatory of Universities (OBU) about the study and work conditions of health students and professors in the universities of Venezuela (Enobu 2022), revealed that 49% of the residents provide medical help with the medicines and supplies obtained by the patients and their families, while the The national government only provides 19%, state governments provide around 12%, and international aid is close to 14%.

Faced with this complicated situation, WORLDWIDE contacted Freddy Pachano Arenas, pediatric surgeon and director of postgraduate medicine at the University of Zulia (LUZ), who detailed the risks faced by Venezuelan health personnel.

Freddy Pachano Arenas, pediatric surgeon and director of postgraduate medicine at the University of Zulia (LUZ).  / world
Freddy Pachano Arenas, pediatric surgeon and director of postgraduate medicine at the University of Zulia (LUZ). / world

Do you consider that the figure of the doctor has been underestimated in Venezuela?

– The figure of the Venezuelan doctor has been underestimated since the arrival of Chavismo, the creation of a parallel career with little or no supervision of the student and the destruction that has been done of the autonomous universities where doctors are trained is an example of this, In addition, the low salary of this profession in the country, as well as the few socioeconomic aids to the health union, make it difficult to exercise the profession.

In the country, the medical profession is not valued because life is not valued, or little importance is given to what happens. Like everything in the country, a reality the size of Venezuela is ignored.

What is the role that toilets play in the Venezuela of 2022?

– In this post-pandemic moment, with a massive migration of health personnel from all areas, the role of health workers is important since it is needed to face a very critical situation with low supplies and scarce personnel. A very difficult job to face without qualified personnel.

What are the specialties of medicine that are most needed at this time in the country? Which are the most absent?

– All areas have deficiencies, because even though there may be some specialized personnel, the reality is that the best and most prepared have in many cases left, leaving only recent graduates who, although they may be supportive, do not have the adequate training in all aspects.

Critical medicine for adults and children, anesthesiologists, orthopedists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, family physicians, pediatric surgeons, pathologists, emergency physicians, pediatric neurologists and neurologists, psychiatrists and thoracic and cardiovascular surgeons, nephrologists, are the most requested at this time .

According to the Observatory of Universities (OBU), 60% of students in the health sector in Venezuela have depressive symptoms. What can be interpreted from this figure?

– Depression has always been part of the medical career, the high performance that must be had, the internal demand and the importance of the family environment always generate a stressful situation. The most important thing in this case is to be able to detect them, which is sometimes difficult.

How can it be reversed?

– Reversal is only achieved with adequate psychological and psychiatric treatment, psychiatric and psychological evaluations can and should be done every six months in medical schools to identify patients and be able to treat them in time.

Do you consider that the detention of health personnel is a pattern to hide the lack of investment by the Venezuelan Government?

– It is a pattern to cause fear and avoid denunciations of the extremely poor state of health services, health institutions and shortages. Undoubtedly the idea is to avoid complaints rather than hide the lack of investment that is seen very easily.

What consequences will this criminalization of toilets bring?

– This has the consequence that we get used to working with nothing, we keep quiet, we do not demand the best for medical attention and that translates into a very bad health service. In addition to the fact that many leave public positions and go to the private sector and others emigrate from the country.

How much is the deficit of medical personnel in the state? For what is this?

– Difficult to know that, I think the personnel deficit is around 40% and the main cause is low pay, hospital problems and persecution of the union. @worldwide

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