Venezuelan docs stage hunger strike as patients die from meds shortage


The rapid collapse of the Venezuelan economy is having a catastrophic impact on the country’s healthcare system. Patients are now dying from a shortage of medicines while the government continues to struggle to pay its bills.

In a special report for the U.K.’s Sky News, cancer specialists at Venezuela's top oncology hospital in the capital Caracas told reporters that half of their patients are needlessly dying because they have no access to the most basic of medicines.

Sky News--which has been filming in secret in the country this month--quoted the doctors as blaming “rampant corruption” and “chaotic state organisation” leading to them having almost no working equipment--and no means of reversing the medical crisis hitting the country.

Dr. Gabriel Romero, an oncology consultant, told the news service: “People are dying because we cannot treat them. There is nothing I can do for them. We don't get the medicine we need and even if there was a supply they don't ask us what we want. This populist government says it is here to favour the poor, it is a complete lie.”

In lieu of this, a number of doctors in the country have now gone on hunger strike until the medicines shortage is dealt with. According to a report by the PanAm Post, 6 doctors at the University Hospital at the University of Los Andes in the southern Venezuelan city of Mérida started the hunger strike in response to shortages of medicine and supplies.

In a statement, the doctors said: “We protest for a country that finds itself in a humanitarian health crisis, where its people die from lack of supplies, a country that dies slowly before the indolent gaze of the authorities.”

Last week, Reuters ran a report saying that the Venezuelan government was so desperate to pay its bills that it would participate in a barter plan with Indian drugmakers that would swap medicines for crude oil.

- check out the Sky News story
- read PanAm Post’s feature