The Current

'We're losing patients' Venezuela's health care in crisis as economy struggles

An economic crisis has made basic provisions scarce to come by, while essential public services are deteriorating at a staggering rate.
In this Feb. 26, 2016 file photo, Oliver Sanchez, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, holds a sign with a message that reads in Spanish: 'I want to be cured, peace, health' during a protest against the growing shortage of medicines and medical supplies, in Caracas, Venezuela. The eight-year-old boy, who had become a symbol of Venezuela's medical crisis, died Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press)
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For the second time this year, the president of Venezuela has declared a state of emergency. The unravelling of life in Venezuela follows the plummeting price of oil, the country's main export, coupled with an ongoing drought.  

The crisis has made basic provisions scarce to come by, while essential public services like hospitals and schools are deteriorating at a staggering rate.

Doctor Maria Alejandra Torres describes how Venezuelan health-care practitioners lack basic drugs and hospital supplies, which has resulted in the death of patients with treatable conditions. "We don't know how to help them. We don't have a way to help them."

Becky Jordan, a teacher in Caracas, articulates what it's like to wait in line for hours for a loaf of bread, and to live without basic essentials like soap and toothpaste.  "Daily life has become increasingly challenging, difficult, frustrating, even humiliating."

We're not at war and we're living worse than in a war situation. I really have no idea how much longer people can take this.- Becky Jordan, a Caracas private school teacher

Speaking to The Current, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, explains how Venezuela got to this point, with the government failing to save the tremendous oil wealth that recently pumped through the economy.

"Literally hundreds of billions of money vanished into people's private bank accounts."

Since Venezuela is about 96 per cent dependent on oil , we're only receiving about a third of the hard currency we were receiving as recently as a couple of years ago.- Phil Gunson, Senior Analyst with International Crisis Group 

  • Doctor Maria Alejandra Torres, Hematologist-Oncologist at a hospital in Caracas
  • Becky Jordan, private school teacher in Caracas
  • Phil Gunson, Senior Analyst with International Crisis Group 

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry