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Venezuela: Manuel Rosales announces national health plan

By Aleksander Boyd

Caracas 15.10.06 | Presidential candidate Manuel Rosales made various announcements this week. On Tuesday he presented to the press his national health plan, which is the replication of successful management models implemented in Zulia state. Hospital General del Sur in Maracaibo is one model Rosales wants to replicate all around Venezuela. Following the launch of official misiones, this hospital was starved of cash, operating with a monthly budget of Bs.40 million -a meagre $18,000. During his tenure Rosales has increased running costs to Bs.2 billion/month -just over $930,000. He then reproached the regime's stance vis-a-vis the health sector by criticising its irresponsible claim of free access to health for the first time in our history. "How can that felow (Hugo Chavez) claim that now Venezuelans have a free health care system when our people die for lack of resources in underfunded hospitals?"

Indeed Barrio Adentro, Chavez's flagship social programme, has had a positive impact among poor Venezuelans who can count now in the advice of Cuban doctors placed inside barrios. However beyond administrating generic aspirins Barrio Adentro doctors can seldom solve grave health issues which are common occurrences in places associated with rampant criminality. Rosales promised to incorporate the network of Barrio Adentro centres, which shall function as complimentary primary care centres, and not, as it happens now, in detriment to hospitals operating for the national health system. Particularly in Hospital General del Sur's case Rosales employed dismissed PDVSA staff to control losses of medical supplies due to theft and corruption practices. As a result patients now do not have to bring anything in order to get treated as it happens in many other hospitals. In Rosales' opinion the deviation of funds earmarked to hospitals for political gain is but one example of the lack of care of the incumbent.

Asked to provide budget estimates for the new plan Rosales said that it will be a priority of his government to find and allocate the neccesary funds to launch this plan. He also commented about the need to enter into agreements with private service providers. "The government's role is to manage and not to exercise control upon every single aspect. It just can't be expected that an utterly inefficient regime will successfully solve all problems related to the health sector. For that reason I will call upon private companies, contract their services and hold them accountable should anything go wrong. That's what responsible governments the world over do" said Rosales.

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