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Venezuelans Crossing the Border to Brazil for Medical Care, Brazil Struggles to Keep Up with Demand

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Venezuelans have been crossing over the border into Brazil in search of food and medical care as Brazilian hospitals struggle to keep up with the influx of new patients.

Thousands of Venezuelans have flooded Brazilian emergency rooms after Venezuela’s dire economic crisis and hyperinflation have caused a shortage in supply of needles, bandages, and medicine, the Washington Post reports.

“Demand is growing faster than I can manage. Every month the number of patients grows exponentially. How can I plan for that?” said Marcilene Moura, the 45-year-old director of the general hospital in the Brazilian border state of Roraima. “What happens if this continues? I’m going to run out of supplies by the middle of the year.”

Roraima, a poor and remote state that serves as Venezuela’s gateway to Brazil, is also having trouble finding facilities to house the bodies of patients who die there.

Corpses that don’t fit in the hospital’s morgue have been sent to the police station morgue as a result. A place originally intended for the remains of victims of violent crimes, the police station’s morgue holds bodies for three months while authorities try to identify them.

An employee of the morgue who asked not to be named said sometimes bodies are stacked two to a drawer.

The hospital in Roraima is also overflowing with patients. To deal with the increase in demand, the hospital created patient wards out of the waiting rooms and stuck beds in the hallways.

Brazilian hospitals have also wound up caring for the families of those hospitalized. While a few lucky family members are taken in by local families who also have patients at the hospital, most family members often sleep in chairs in the hallways while they rely on government services for meals and showers.

Venezuelans are also selling their children and abandoning them, as well as selling their hair for $20 a head due to the economic crisis.


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