Venezuelan Government Invests in Humanist Healthcare, Expands National Health Service

This Sunday the Venezuelan Health Minister, Eugenia Sader, affirmed that the Bolivarian government would construct over 1,200 public healthcare projects throughout the county in an attempt to expand the existing national health service.


Macuto, September 6th 2011 ( – This Sunday the Venezuelan Health Minister, Eugenia Sader, affirmed that the Bolivarian government would construct over 1,200 public healthcare projects throughout the county in an attempt to expand the existing national health service.

Sader made the announcement during the inauguration of a new high-tech maternity and paediatric department in the Angulo Rivas hospital, Anzoátegui state. Built as part of the government’s “Baby Jesus Mission”, which focuses on the health of pregnant women and newborn babies, the hospital has an emergency room, as well as 12 specialist incubators, and cost around 9.5 million Bolivars (US$ 2.2 million) to construct.

“The president [Hugo Chávez] inaugurated 42 diagnostic centres in June, 10 new Barrio Adentro II clinics in August, and for September we have another 15,” said Sader, who remarked earlier this month that within the next two to three years private clinics should no longer be needed in Venezuela.

According to the health minister, not only does the government aim to provide a free and universal health service, but also a “dignified environment, advanced equipment and specialised personnel” who are committed to treating patients with “love and human care”.

“That’s the difference between capitalist medicine and socialist medicine: love, and free medical attention, the power to provide cutting edge technology to all of our newborns,” said Sader.

Projects funded by the government will include renovations and extensions of existing clinics, the creation of more diagnostic and Barrio Adentro centres, and the construction of at least 24 new hospitals.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who has just completed his third round of chemotherapy in Venezuela, previously approved massive investments in the healthcare service earlier in June.

Health and Popular Power

One of the beneficiaries of the government’s plans is the El Espinal clinic in Nueva Esparta, which will be expanded so as to offer new medical services to the population, including dental care.

Sader classified the decision to expand the centre as a government response to popular demand, since community councils in the area, working in conjunction with Bolivarian mayors, directly petitioned the government for the expansion in January of this year.

“The people demanded this extension of the clinic and it was needed. We couldn’t keep paying the high costs at the private clinics and president Chávez listened to us,” said Carlos Alejandro Villarroel, a resident in the area.

Community councils are also to assume an active role in the expansion of the clinic and will collaborate directly in construction work, which is expected to be completed by early 2012.

“From my point of view, it’s really important that the communal councils are the ones responsible for the construction work, because this shows that the power lies with the people,” stated resident José Gregorio Rivas.

Hospital José María Benítez: 4 Years of “Humanised” Births

Statistics also revealed this week by Venezuela’s flagship José Maria Benítez hospital confirmed that 168 pregnant women had successfully and naturally given birth at the centre over the past 4 years. The hospital promotes a natural and surgery-free approach to giving birth and is the only centre in Venezuela where expectant mothers can opt to have their baby in a birthing pool free of charge.

Inaugurated 4 years ago due to the efforts of pioneering obstetrician Haydee Pacheco and prenatal facilitator Sumiré Vivas, the hospital has since been recognised by the United Nations Children’s Fund for its important work.

Based around the concept of “humanised” birthing practices, the hospital rejects conventional medical methods which “violate” women during the labour process; such as unnecessary caesarean sections, suturing, or requiring expectant mothers to fast or shave. Instead, patients are encouraged to share their birthing experience with their partners and family, as well as to give birth from a natural vertical position as opposed to lying down. No drugs are used and babies are not separated from their mothers following the birth. In this way, new mothers are placed at the centre of the birthing experience, as opposed to being “passive” within the process.

“Giving birth was a pleasure, I didn’t need stitches, an enema, anaesthetic or Pitocin (a drug used to induce labour), I breastfed my son immediately afterwards, and I was also treated with care and understanding,” said Daniela Linares, a patient at the clinic who had been advised to have a caesarean by her previous obstetrician. 

Vivas explained that the main characteristic of a humanised birth is not the equipment on hand, but the attitude of the obstetrician towards the patient.

“Doctors who have already graduated, and who have spent a certain amount of time carrying out conventional obstetrics, won’t do it differently until they understand the philosophy of the humanised birth and they change… The most advisable thing to do is to train medical students with a vision of the humanised birth from the very beginning.”

According to Vivas, there are currently a number of medical students from different Venezuelan universities being trained at the hospital as part of their university studies.

“They fall in love with humanised birth, they fight for women’s rights in the labour wards and they get frustrated when they see that the doctors are treating the women who are giving birth in a violent way,” said Vivas.

In addition to extensive investment in the country’s national health services, the Venezuelan government also approved the creation of a National Cancer Institute late last month.