CARACAS – A group of medical students protested on Friday outside the Venezuelan Health Ministry to demand that its current minister resolve the ongoing crisis in the sector, while doctors’ and nurses’ representatives did the same in a Caracas plaza.
The students came to demand that Health Minister Antonieta Caporale “respond in some way to the crisis we’re going through,” Hilda Rubi of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) told reporters during the protest called for National Doctors Day.
Rubi, surrounded by pharmacy, nursing and nutrition students, said that in Venezuela “there is little in the way of medical supplies” and “hospital beds are empty” because patients cannot be treated when the treatments they need are nonexistent.
She therefore asked the health minister to “turn the job over to someone who really cares about Venezuela.”
Students also asked that a food bonus be provided for pensioners in the medical sector, since, they said, “the pension they are paid in bolivars isn’t enough, for example, to buy two boxes of Losartan (hypertension medicine).”
According to Rubi, students will give the minister 72 hours to answer their demands, then in one week will announce what they will do next to deal with the healthcare crisis.
For her part, the president of the Capital District Nursing School, Ana Rosario Contreras, said from Plaza Alfredo Sadel on the east side of Caracas that the nation’s hospitals face innumerable problems, from a lack of medications and an unreliable water supply to crumbling structures and a shortage of disinfectants to assure cleanliness.
Contreras said she doesn’t want to alarm people but that is Venezuela today.
“Unfortunately I must say that Venezuela is a very sick country,” she said, and expressed her uneasiness about the wages being paid to medical workers.
Medical students and representatives agreed that, though this is National Doctors Day, the sector has nothing to celebrate, thanks to a crisis that just goes on and on.
For two years Venezuela has suffered a life-threatening shortage of medicines and in 2016 the National Assembly declared a “humanitarian health crisis.”