Venezuelan Government Continues to Block Humanitarian Aid Efforts That Could Save Lives During Crisis

child with cancerAs the medical crisis worsens, the Venezuelan government continues to deny attempts to bring humanitarian aid into the country.

Venezuelan citizens are demanding that their government accept foreign aid after the Maduro administration apparently blocked several requests to import free medicine into the dangerously crisis-ravaged state.

Opposition leader Lilian Tintori has been working with Venezuelan expats to collect 100 tons of donated supplies to help the country’s failing hospitals. However, the donations have been stopped in foreign cities where they now sit in warehouses, useless to the sick and dying people of Venezuela. According to the Maduro administration, the goods cannot be delivered due to a lack of proper import permits.

The economic crisis in Venezuela has escalated into a public health emergency, taking the lives of countless adults and children.

“The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in Caracas. According to The New York Times, the situation has become so dire that there have been incidents of newborns dying in maternity wards as blackouts sweep the city. Doctors have been forced to keep infants alive by pumping their lungs with air by hand for hours on end.

Medical supplies are scarce and cancer medications can only be found on the black market. Some hospitals have completely run out of water, causing doctors to use bottles of seltzer water to clean their hands for surgery.

“It is like something from the 19th century,” said one hospital surgeon.

The rate of death among infants under one month old has increased more than a hundredfold, and the death rate among new mothers is five times higher than in the past.

Yet President Nicolas Maduro recently went on television to speak out against the relief effort, claiming that those who oppose him are simply trying to undermine his power and privatize the hospital system. He said, “I doubt that anywhere in the world, except in Cuba, there exists a better health system than this one.”

A lawmaker and former hospital union leader, Oneida Guaipe said of the crisis, “This is criminal that we can sit in a country with this much oil, and people are dying for lack of antibiotics.”

Drugs and medical supplies are being offered, but Maduro continues to refuse help from counties like the United States.

In the U.S., with modern medicine and surgical practices, over 90% of patients with retinal detachment can be successfully treated. Yet in Venezuela, doctors do not even have access to the fundamental necessities like water, paper, and electricity.