Venezuela: With Hospitals Lacking Beds, Women Are Giving Birth on the Floor

Five women gave birth on the floor of the Dr. Raúl Leoni Hospital in San Félix, Venezuela, this week, in another sign of the country’s worsening humanitarian crisis.

“Yesterday, five patients were delivered on the floor in the Social Security of Guaiparo Hospital (Dr. Raúl Leoni Hospital),” Dr. María Yanes, the former president of the Scientific Societies network, wrote on Twitter.

Yanes accompanied the tweet with a photo of two women lying on blankets in a hospital corridor and a call for greater humanitarian assistance in Venezuela.

In recent months, several non-governmental organizations across Venezuela have urged the international humanitarian channel to face the crisis that the country is experiencing.

In March, the country’s socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro pleaded with the United Nations to deliver medical aid to the country after refusing to do so for months. However, a report from Fox News in June found that authorities were blocking nearly all aid shipments from the United States and, instead, confiscating supplies and keeping them for themselves.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to impose sanctions against the regime, among them a ban on Americans from dealing in Venezuelan government debt and personal sanctions placed against Maduro and other government officials.

While dictator Hugo Chávez included the right to health care in his version of the Venezuelan constitution – which Maduro has chosen to discard and replace with a to-be-written constitution currently in progress – the government has been forced to make a series of drastic cuts amid the collapse of its economy under socialism, meaning hundreds of thousands of people cannot access adequate health care.

Reports this summer revealed that Venezuelan hospitals were asking patients to bring their own bandages, gauze, and medicine. Women have increasingly turned to sterilization as a means of birth control. Meanwhile, in 2015, poor sanitary conditions led to an infestation of opossums that led to the death of 17 babies.

The chronic lack of medicine has led to a rise in amputations of infected limbs, mastectomies due to a lack of cancer treatment, and a spike in HIV diagnoses and teen pregnancies due to the shortage of contraceptives.

Many of Venezuela’s problems can be attributed to the chronic lack of basic resources as a result of skyrocketing inflation, which has now left the country’s humanitarian situation, with millions of people now living in abject poverty. Despite three minimum wage hikes over the course of 2017, the country’s monthly minimum wage of 97,500 bolivars is now equivalent to around $3.88 a month.

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