Mérida, 9th October 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro signed a decree creating the Venezuelan University of Health Sciences yesterday in order to train thousands of students in different medical disciplines.
“It’s going to be a great university to train doctors, nurses and nutritionists, so that thousands of youths come to be educated. The university has been created and begins its functions immediately,” said Maduro during the graduation ceremony of 40 community doctors in a Caracas theatre.
Further details on the exact number of students the new institution will accept or the precise range of courses were not immediately announced.
The creation of the medical sciences university comes as the government is attempting to design what it says will be the largest system of postgraduate medical specialisations in Latin America. These courses will give specialist residency training to the thousands of new community doctors who have been educated under the Comprehensive Community Medicine (MIC) program since 2005.
So far 18,000 community doctors have graduated under the MIC program, a rigorous six year degree based on the Cuban medical model and established with Cuban medical professionals and assistance. A further 38,000 are in training. Public university education is free in Venezuela.
The MIC program aims to produce 60,000 additional doctors for Venezuela by 2019, over and above those trained through the traditional public and private systems. A number of MIC students come from other countries in the region. The government will also provide funding for 1000 Palestinians to study medicine in Venezuela, with the first 100 arriving in the country soon.
Maduro used yesterday’s ceremony to underline his government’s commitment to the free, public sector delivery of healthcare, and the opening of opportunities to study medicine to all those who have the ability and vocation to do so. He contrasted this approach with those of “privatised” healthcare systems.
“We must keep bringing these medical services to the community, to the human being, it [MIC] is not elitist medicine. It’s not making what should be a sacred job, helping your fellow human being, into a commodity,” the Venezuelan head of state declared.
US $123 million were also approved to complete the renovation of 19 hospitals, and plans were announced to prevent the arrival of the Ebola virus to the South American country.
In other medical news, officials have implemented a strategy to improve monitoring of the importation, production and distribution of medicines in the country, under the premise that currency fraud, speculation and smuggling to Colombia are contributing to shortages in some medicines and medical materials.
Critics and pharmaceutical industry bodies blame the government for the shortages, arguing that over the past year authorities have not authorised sufficient currency transactions through fixed-rate currency controls to allow an adequate supply of medicines and other materials to arrive into the country.
Maduro approved an additional $600 million for the purchase of such materials at the end of last month, declaring he would “win the battle for the health of the homeland”.