Santa Elena de Uairén, April 28th 2014. (Venezuelanalysis.com)- This week the Venezuelan government launched a vaccine campaign which is equipped and estimated to serve over 3 million children. The procedure is has been set in motion in accordance with the Pan American Health Organization’s “Vaccine in the Americas” initiative.
On Sunday Venezuelan health minister Francisco Armada invited all families to bring children under the age of six to one of the six thousand registered health centers, where they will have the option of receiving over ten different vaccinations. Ten thousand health workers have been assigned to these posts until the campaign ends on May 25th.
Armada estimated that at least Bs 3 billion were invested in medicine and medical supplies in recent months. Many of the products were imported through trade agreements with China, Argentina, Cuba, and Uruguay.
Armada admitted in an interview on Sunday that there were certain products, particularly brand-name items, which were not widely accessible. However, he said, in almost all cases, their generic counterparts were available. He reminded doctors of their responsibility to include the active ingredient or generic name of the medicine when writing prescriptions.
Additionally, he warned private practitioners that medical procedures and operations fall under the legislation of the 2013 Fair Price Law, which regulates profit margins. “All medical procedures have been under regulation since the birth of modern medicine,” he said, indicating that the measure was set in place to protect consumers and in this case, patients.
While admitting the great need for improvement in hospital care, Armada asked that people view the situation with eyes unclouded by political prejudice. “We don’t share the catastrophic estimations that some political actors impart, with their intention to generate anguish… there certainly have been problems in certain areas, but not always in the same area.”
The minister met with over 200 doctors and people in the pharmaceutical and distribution fields on Saturday in Caracas to review troubled areas and propose solutions.
Armada called the meeting “fruitful,” and indicated that various strategies are being employed to better facilitate the acquisition, distribution, and commercialization of healthcare items.
One objective the meeting yielded was the extension of all existing Certificates of No-Production, or Insufficiency Certificates, which companies are granted after proving their need for high-priority items is not met by national production. The certificate permits access to foreign currency at a highly subsidized rate (6.3 bolivars to the dollar), in order to import those items from abroad.
Those companies which already have such certificates can expect the automatic renewal of their status, while the minister promised to review all new cases in an expedited manner, in response to numerous complaints.
A new troubleshooting model known as “managing collectives” has also been introduced, as an alternative to the single director hierarchy. Made up of hospital workers and community council representatives, each collective will review the issues and priorities of their local hospital and, allegedly, provide authentic reports to the corresponding ministry departments. This system is in accordance with President Nicolas Maduro’s “Street Government” grassroots initiative.
Armada noted accessibility as a top ministry priority, pointing out that the number of medical institutions has risen from four thousand to ten thousand in the past 15 years.