- Title: Venezuelans in need of medical supplies call on church to mediate with government
- Date: 17th November 2016
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (NOVEMBER 17, 2016) (REUTERS) MOTORCYCLES IN RALLY PROTESTERS WEARING YELLOW AND CARRYING FLAGS FOR 'PRIMERO JUSTICIA' (FIRST JUSTICE) OPPOSITION PARTY POSTER THAT READS 'NO MORE DEATHS BECAUSE OF A LACK OF MEDICATIONS' VARIOUS OF WOMEN CHANTING AGAINST GOVERNMENT (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ENYERBER SILVA, PROTESTER, SAYING: "Mr. President, we beg you, we ask you, open up the humanitarian channel. This isn't a question of colours or political ends, nor is it about governing nor opposition party. We are dying. Open up the humanitarian channel. There are no medicines. Every day, Venezuelans are dying." PROTESTERS, SOME DRESSED IN SCRUBS AND OTHERS CARRYING FLAGS, STANDING POSTER THAT READS 'CARACAS SOUNDS (MUSIC FESTIVAL) AND THERE ARE NO MEDICINES' PROTESTER WITH EYE PATCH VARIOUS OF MAN DRESSED AS DEATH WITH BANNER THAT READS 'ENOUGH VIOLENCE' PROTESTERS WAITING OUTSIDE APOSTOLIC NUNCIATURE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) JOSE MANUEL OLIVARES, OPPOSITION DEPUTY, SAYING: "Allowing humanitarian aid is in the national government's hands for Venezuelans to stop dying over a lack of medicines once and for all. I will end by saying that this is not a fight against anyone; this is not a fight against a group. It is a fight for the health and life of all Venezuelans regardless of political colour, race or commitment." VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS OUTSIDE APOSTOLIC NUNCIATURE VARIOUS OF MEDICAL PRESCRIPTIONS AND DOCTORS' NOTES PASTED ON APOSTOLIC NUNCIATURE PROTESTERS OUTSIDE APOSTOLIC NUNCIATURE
- Embargoed: 2nd December 2016 20:15
- Keywords: Venezuela protest shortages medicine Catholic church talks
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00158U4DOJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Venezuelan patients marched on Thursday (November 17) to the Apostolic Nunciature to demand the Catholic Church, which is mediating talks between President Nicolas Maduro's government and the opposition, address the issue of medication shortages.
Riding motorcycles and carrying flags of opposition parties, the protesters drove to the Caracas office where they handed papal envoy Aldo Giordano a document requesting the country declare a humanitarian emergency.
"Mr. President, we beg you, we ask you, open up the humanitarian channel. This isn't a question of colours or political ends, nor is it about governing nor opposition party. We are dying. Open up the humanitarian channel. There are no medicines. Every day, Venezuelans are dying," said protester Enyerber Silva.
Venezuela is mired in a deep economic crisis which has led to food and medicine shortages, a brain drain, rising crime and major debts with service providers.
Earlier this year, the country's main pharmacy group said eight out of 10 medicines were scarce. Chronic hospital shortages mean that patients have to bring their own supplies for surgery, including saline solution. Doctors say children have died of sepsis from lack of antibiotics.
Patients, doctors and even two Venezuelan Cardinals Jorge Urosa and Baltazar Porras, have unsuccessfully asked Maduro's socialist government declare a national health crisis and allow foreign humanitarian aid.
But the government-leaning Supreme Court shot down the assembly's proposal. Government officials deny Venezuela is facing a humanitarian crisis and say there is no need for humanitarian assistance.
"Allowing humanitarian aid is in the national government's hands for Venezuelans to stop dying over a lack of medicines once and for all. I will end by saying that this is not a fight against anyone; this is not a fight against a group. It is a fight for the health and life of all Venezuelans regardless of political colour, race or commitment," said opposition deputy Jose Manuel Olivares.
It is a huge challenge for the ruling Socialist Party which, under Chavez, ran enormously popular free health projects such as Cuban-staffed clinics in the slums but is now finding its welfare programs stretched.
Maduro is fiercely proud of health advances under the 1999-2013 rule of socialist leader Hugo Chavez, and he says adversaries are exaggerating the problems and the shortages are due to a U.S.-backed "economic war," exacerbated by a plunge in the price of oil, which accounts for 95 percent of export revenues.
Health ministry statistics show that in 2015 for every 100 people discharged from state hospitals, 31 died - a rate six times higher than the previous year. Infant mortality was 2 percent of births last year, 100 times worse than 2014.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Venezuela and Guyana were the only countries in South America to see maternal death rates worsen last year.
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