Wednesday, November 08, 2017 by Lance D Johnson
It didn’t take long for the socialist experiment in Venezuela to give way to malnutrition, starvation and scarcity of hospital beds and basic medical supplies. It doesn’t matter how sick you are right now in Venezuela; you might have no option but to take makeshift treatment from the hospital floor. Women are giving birth in crowded waiting rooms, and hundreds of thousands of people with malaria are suffering, unable to get treatment. Over a million cases of malaria are expected by 2018.
According to expert estimates, the country has enough hospital beds to accommodate about 25 percent of the country’s needs. The government’s supply of 47,000 hospital beds has shrunk to 18,000 units, as the socialist health care system continues to ration. There is no guarantee that a doctor will be able to help you if you walk through hospital doors, either. This comes at a time when thousands of the country’s children are at risk of dying from malnutrition. Illnesses such as diphtheria are getting the best of the young and old, who are starving for nutrition or some kind of sustenance and stability. Rafael Gottenger, president of the Venezuelan American Medical Association, says: “We have seen children dying in Caracas from malnutrition. Mothers have nothing to feed their children. I have documented cases. For example, in the El Llanito Hospital, at least eight children have died recently from malnutrition. And if that’s the way it is in the capital, how would it be in the rest of the country?”
The Venezuelan socialist experiment is about eighteen years old. For fifteen years, the country was represented by Hugo Chavez, a populist who promised free healthcare and an improved standard of living. While the standard of living increased for many in the beginning, the wealth was slowly rationed by those at the very top of the socialist pyramid scheme. Over the years, the country became dependent on foreign oil for a majority of its economy. As the price of the oil went down, the wealth that the government was able to redistribute diminished.
When the government gains control over the economy, the very import aspects of innovation, competition, and efficiency are lost. Newfound dependency on social programs halts the drive and initiative of people. Consumer choice is lost as bureaucrats and the wealthy class engage in corruption and decide what is best for the majority.
What was promised as a fair system slowly loses its ability to regulate its own prices based on consumer demand. The limited supply of money that is taken from the producers is never enough to take care of everyone. When the money begins to run out to make life fair for everyone, production is slowed and goods and services become scarce. When the government begins setting the prices, the elite crony authoritarians find ways to take advantage, cutting off competition that naturally drives prices down and provides more abundant resources and choice.
In Venezuela now, even if a patient finds a hospital bed, there is no guarantee he or she will receive treatment. Douglas Leon Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation says hospitals have less than five percent of the supplies and medicines needed to function normally.
“Any Venezuelan who gets sick here in the country today runs the risk of entering a clinic only to have the relatives leave crying” Natera told El Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview. He says the high-priority showcase hospitals that receive resources first only have about 10-12 percent of what they need to treat the patients who come through their doors.
With low oil prices stifling their economy, current President Nicolas Maduro has resorted to placing strict limits on food and medicine imports. Catholic charity organizations have struggled to keep up with the staggering rate of malnutrition in children. One organization, the Caritas, reports malnutrition as high as 11.4 percent for children under five. The malnutrition is disaffecting children’s growth and ability to fight off infectious disease. Diptheria, once deemed eradicated, has made a comeback in the country, with new outbreaks forming.
It’s still unclear how many will have to suffer before the socialist system of Venezuela finally comes to an end.