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The incredible Dr. Capella, Venezuela's Health Minister

By Miguel Octavio

I simply translate what our illustrious Minister of Health said in Geneva. Did he think nobody was listening? Is this guy as idiotic as he sounds? Will he go back to fixing varicose veins soon? You be the judge:

Venezuela intends to put under state control private medicine institutions, among them hospitals and insurance companies, said the Minister of Health Roger Capella, accusing these companies of benefiting without investing anything.

“We are going to rescue what the private organizations robbed and kidnapped from the state” said Capella where he is attending the WHO meeting.

We have financed (??) the private system in Venezuela that has taken advantage of the money of the State, said the Minister at a meeting with reporters.

Capella specified that “we are not taking anything from anyone; we are recovering what was slowly given to private groups during five decades, damaging public health in the country”

“The private sector did not invest one cent (??), they only made money”, said Capella who specified that the process of controlling those companies would take two to three years.

The Minister of Health noted that among the private insurance that he wants to place under state control there are companies “both national as well as multinational’, among them some European and Spanish ones.

He said the objective of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, will be to implement a unified public health system that would group all 68 public institutions that currently exist. He said that currently the health system in Venezuela functions in disperse fashion, fragmented and uncoordinated, and of course, totally inefficient”.

There is no national orientation for expenditures, said Capella who pointed out that public health expenditures have tripled in the last few years and represent 4% of GDP, but if you add all resources it reaches 10 to 12%.

For now, all I will say on this issue is that Mr. Capella is famous for putting his foot in his mouth. I think the Government will not welcome these statements and most likely they will deny he ever said that. He has been Vice-Minister and Minister during much of this increase in budget (which is in Bolivars, so it is not real), if it is run inefficiently, he has had a huge share of responsibility in it. As far as I know, there has never been public financing of private medicine in Venezuela. In fact, many years ago, I was in a committee that rejected purchasing a piece of equipment for a medical doctor for scientific research because the equipment would go in the office where he had his private practice. I also wonder whether he plans to put under state control his clinics for varicose veins…

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