Mérida, July 26, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the construction of 15 new hospitals across the country at an event in Caracas yesterday. The new hospitals, along with the remodeling of existing hospitals, make up the third and fourth phases of the Barrio Adentro (Inside the Barrio) health program. The Chavez government’s social programs, such as Barrio Adentro, have benefited nearly 50 percent of Venezuelan households according to a recent survey.
Chavez announced the new hospitals yesterday at the inauguration of the remodeled and reequipped Pérez Carreño hospital in Caracas. The 15 new hospitals will be general care hospitals, but each will have a specialization, according to Chavez. The president gave as examples the hospital to be built in El Vigia, in the state of Merida, which will specialize in Gastroenterology, and the hospital in Guarenas, in the state of Miranda, which will specialize in cancer treatment. Hospitals will also be built in the states of Barinas, Apure, Anzoátegui, Cojedes, Aragua, Carabobo, Guarico, and Bolivar.
As a part of the Barrio Adentro health program, these new hospitals make up the fourth phase of the health program consisting of building specialized hospitals. The third phase, launched in 2006, is the upgrading and remodeling of existing hospitals such as the Pérez Carreño hospital that Chavez inaugurated yesterday. These hospitals receive improvements in their infrastructure as well as new medical equipment and facilities.
"We have seen equipment that did not exist in Venezuela before, now for the service of all Venezuelans," said Chavez yesterday at the Pérez Carreño hospital. "Some of them have been installed and operated for the first time. This, combined with high quality medical personnel, is the perfect combination of man and machine."
The Pérez Carreño hospital was equipped with a new emergency room with capacity to treat 66 patients simultaneously, two operating rooms, and two recovery rooms, as well as a variety of state-of-the-art technology. Chavez commented that this model emergency room is "number one, not only in Venezuela, but on this continent. It would be difficult to find an emergency service as good as this one."
This is the beginning of the third phase of Barrio Adentro, according to Chavez, and he said he hopes to see "all the hospitals in the country as good as [the] Pérez Carreño [hospital]."
According to Health Minister Jesus Mantilla, the Venezuelan government has approved a total of Bs. 1,355 billion (US$ 631 million) for the remodeling and upgrading of 62 public hospitals across the country. The minister said that more hospitals will be incorporated into the project as the program advances.
"All of the people need preventative, healing, quality care that is efficient and free," said Chavez. "This is a truly revolutionary concept."
The social programs of the Chavez’ government that include health, nutrition, and education programs have reached 47.7 percent of Venezuelan homes according to a recent survey by the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV). The study showed that 62.3 percent of low-income homes benefit from the programs, while only 22 percent of middle class homes have been reached. The study also showed that general well-being among the Venezuelan population had improved from 1997 to 2005. Inequality, however, had slightly increased from 2000 to 2005
Chavez assured yesterday that these results were evidence that Venezuela is "winning the battle against capitalism." He also cited results of a recent survey that showed he enjoys the support of 70 percent of the population.
"Imagine if we could increase the efficiency in the general management of the government," said Chavez. "If we could do a better follow up on things, if we were more efficient, our support would get as high as 90 percent."
Chavez also cited results that show that 35 percent of Venezuelans say they prefer a socialist system, while 40 percent support a social democracy, and only 5 percent prefer a capitalist system.
But Chavez claimed that the survey was poorly designed since it asked the question as if socialism was different from democracy.
"The new socialism isn’t the dictatorship of the proletariat," he said. "It’s democracy."