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Socialism made him feel better...

By Fausta | The Bad Hair Blog

16.08.05 | ...says Stuart Munckton at Green Left Weekly. I'm glad it did, since the poor man was acutely ill and dehydrated. I have experienced that illness, and it's horrible, and at a different ocassion I have also been misdiagnosed by an incompetent doctor, so I'm glad Mr. Munckton's healthy again. Too bad his cluelessness is incurable (emphasis mine):

The Venezuelan government invited Cuban medical volunteers to help staff the clinics, after just 50 Venezuelan doctors raised their hands to participate. Most Venezuelan doctors — a product of the old system where doctors used their careers to make themselves more comfortable — declined the government’s offer of a US$600 monthly stipend to bring health-care to the poor. The Cubans, who accepted $200 per month, have proven a big hit with the community. Not being in it for the money, but out of real humanitarian concerns, they treat their patients with genuine consideration and respect and have only their best interests at heart.

I won't go into a full fisking, but allow me to point out that, compared with the $20/month in Havana, the humanitarian-concerned would have looked at $200/month and thought they'd make like Croesus, only that the reality is much different:

The latest study notes that the Cubans have to live in an increasingly violent environment. This increasing violence is one of the main reasons why Venezuelan doctors refuse to work in these barrios.

At 6 pm just before the shooting starts, Carlos, the Cuban Doctor, locks himself up in his office, until next morning. He says: "I only open the door in extreme cases." He is afraid he will be killed, like his countryman Luis Rainier Puente, who was shot to death in 2003 only 15 days after arriving in the country. They killed him to rob him.
. . .
"Each Cuban doctor is assigned 250 families, some 1,200 people, and have to keep medical records of them all. We do the work by hand since we have no computers. It is difficult to keep track of so many cases, some with severe afflictions that we have to refer to hospitals." Both doctors sleep in the back of the office. Two small beds, a TV set in one corner and two carton boxes are all the furniture. Jose Luis says: "It is not easy to fill up these boxes with the items needed by our families in Cuba. Our salaries are the equivalent of $186 a month, the minimum official salary. Any labor in the barrio with a stable job gets that much. . ."

There's also the problem that, while

Chavez’s government-equipped Cuban-staffed clinics have medicines and modern machines, public hospitals lacked basic medical equipment.

“They’re equipping these centres and yet the big public hospitals don’t have surgical gloves, gauze or X-ray plates,” said radiologist Maria Falcon, reported Reuters.

Of course, that's assuming that all the medics really are medics, which is doubtful. Then there's the fact that poverty in Venezuela rose from 43 percent to 54 percent of the population during Chávez's first four years in office. And extreme poverty -- the percentage of the population that lives on less than $1 a day -- grew from 17 percent to 25 percent during the same period. That's how Venezuelan socialism makes people feel better.

If Mr. Munckton could read about Cuba, he would find the facilities at the Hospital Clínico Quirúrgico less than satisfactory -- but as a foreigner he'd have to pay for good medical care, in US dollars, so at least he'd miss out on that. The Cuban health system is so awful that seven years ago The Economist carried a report showing that patients were taken home from the hospital on the back of their doctor's bicycle. Last month Reuters reported Havana on health alert after eight children die and the story stated "the deaths were related by power, cooking gas and water problems, in part caused by Hurricane Dennis".

Hurricane Dennis? More like Hurricane Fidelugo. There are an estimated 20,000 health personnel in Venezuela, including 14,000 doctors, and Castro's promised to increase that number to 30,000 by year's end, according to this morning's El Herald's front-page article, Profunda crisis en la salud pública de Cuba (Profound public health crisis in Cuba). The transfer of Cuban medical staff to Venezuela has caused a precipitous shortage of medics in Cuba. A report from the Centro de Salud y Derechos Humanos stated that over 31 deaths (children and adults) in Havana alone (since there are no statistics reported on the rest of the island) are due to several factors, such as

" . . . la poca atención a los programas de control epidemiológico de las enfermedades transmisibles, the principalmente por la escasez de personal calificado; la desmotivación de los profesionales en esas tareas y las limitaciones en los recursos requeridos para realizarlas; así como el deplorable estado higiénico-sanitario, caracterizado por la presencia de vertederos de basura a nivel de todas las cuadras."

(my translation)

". . . little attention to epidemiologist control programs of transmissible diseases, mainly due to the described shortage of [medical] personnel; the demotivation of medical professionals and the limited resources; as well as the deplorable sanitation and hygienic status, characterized by the presence of garbage dumps at all [urban] blocks"

The report says that water contamination is rife due to poor infrastructure conditions.

Most alarming yet, the report states that, in addition to viral infections, there are epidemics of dengue fever, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and meningoencephalitis. These are serious illnesses indeed and a good health care system, such as the one run by members of the American Medical Association in capitalist Puerto Rico (which has a similar climate), can quickly stop outbreaks and erradicate these illnesses.

Socialism mades Stuart Munckton feel better. And it's killing scores.

Cross-posted at Love America First.

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