It was just a scraped knee. So three-year-old Ashley Pacheco’s Venezuelan parents did what parents do: They gave her a hug, cleaned the wound twice with rubbing alcohol and thought no more of it.
Two weeks later, the little girl writhed screaming in a hospital bed. Her breathing came in ragged gasps as she begged passing patients for a sip of water.
Her mother stayed day and night in the trauma unit. She kept Ashley on an empty stomach in case she might cut in front of hundreds of other patients for emergency surgery in one of the hospital’s few functioning operating rooms.
Her father scoured Caracas for scarce antibiotics to fight the infection spreading through his daughter’s body. They had no idea how much worse it was going to get.
If Venezuela has become dangerous for the healthy, it is now deadly for those who fall ill.
One in three people admitted to public hospitals last year died, the government reports. The number of operational hospital beds has fallen by 40 per cent since just 2014. And as the economy fails, the country is running short on 85 per cent of medicines, according to the national drugstore trade group.
One in three admitted to hospital now die!!! In NZ the figure is 1.48%.
What is so appalling isn’t just that Venezuela has ended up in this state, but the Government refuses to acknowledge its policies are failing and they are doubling down on them rather than take steps to help the people suffering.
“I really don’t know of any other country where things have deteriorated so quickly, to such an incredible extent,” said Rafael Perez-Escamilla, a Yale University School of Public Health professor who has worked in Latin America and Africa. “Venezuela’s health system was a model for Latin America. Now you are seeing an implosion where people cannot get basic care.”
This was all preventable. This is not a country that never had a strong economy and healthcare system. Their policies have led to this.
The left-wing administration of President Nicolas Maduro calls the medical crisis an invention peddled by opponents of the country’s 17-year-old socialist revolution. The week Ashley was hospitalised, Maduro went on television and called on Venezuelans to start growing medicinal herbs.
What a terrible man.
The government has refused to let in humanitarian aid. So donations of medical supplies sit in warehouses and shipping containers in countries including the US, Spain and Panama.