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Originally published August 28 2015

Socialist medicine on parade in Venezuela: Here's what happens when government runs health care

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Free healthcare for everyone isn't working so well in the socialist medicine utopia of Venezuela. A new documentary report by photojournalist Betty Zapata reveals rampant filth, lack of resources and medicine, grossly underpaid doctors, and all-around chaos at public health clinics and hospitals throughout this South American oil-exporting nation.

Established using some of the massive wealth accumulated from its $1.9 trillion in oil exports, Venezuela's public health system is a product of the late Hugo Chavez' visionary goals for ending poverty. Since his death, though, the system has deteriorated into Third World squalor, where even basic sanitation practices are no longer followed, putting everyone at risk.

"Often, there's no soap, no bags, no gloves to take out human waste," stated one healthcare worker in anonymity. "We put used needles into empty bottles. That's how we get rid of them."

The full, five-minute documentary report is available here:

Only one hospital bed available for every 1,900 Venezuelans; medicine available at one-third the amount needed

To make matters worse, Venezuela's economy has plummeted so significantly in recent months that doctors throughout the country are now having to accept pittance as pay. The average Venezuelan doctor, according to Zapata, earns the equivalent of about $15 per month, due in part to ever-declining prices for oil.

Since 2010, nearly 10,000 medical graduates have fled Venezuela in search of greener pastures to open up or join a medical practice. They simply can't make it in their home country, they claim, where there are only a fraction of the number of hospital beds needed to serve everyone.

Venezuelan hospitals currently only have about 16,000 total beds in operation to serve some 30 million people. Available medicines are less than one-third of what's required for the national population, and in the nation's capital city of Caracas, every single operating room at the primary children's hospital has been shuttered due to lack of funding and staff.

"In this hospital, we have 5,000 people waiting for surgery," stated one medical worker about conditions at his particularly facility. "Sometimes we ring patients to arrange their operation and they're already dead. It's a humanitarian crisis."

Venezuelan hospitals teeming with filth; many patients never get to see a doctor

One pregnant woman told Zapata that she's been waiting to see a doctor at her local public health facility for more than a week. She says that, unless a patient is literally bleeding all over the waiting room, it's unlikely that he or she will ever get to see a doctor.

"I'm having contractions, (and) I've been here for a week and I haven't been seen," she stated. "They won't see you unless you're bleeding everywhere. The pain is driving me crazy."

Another man told Zapata that the average breast cancer patient in Venezuela has to wait about eight months to receive treatment, which is due in part to the fact that cancer medicines are in extremely short supply.

"We have to buy a lot of our medication on the street," added another woman, who's been trying to access treatment for her sick relative, without avail. "I've been here for 15 days with my nephew. He suffers from AIDS. It was hard to get him a bed. Every day he gets worse. It's a living hell."

As broken as America's healthcare system is, it's a far cry from the nightmarish conditions in Venezuela, where socialized medicine is the order of the day. Is this really the type of system that Americans want in their country?

"Who would want to be hospitalized somewhere like this?" asked another medical worker, surrounded by filth. "We can't work in these conditions."

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