VENEZUELA: A country where medicine shortage takes Good Diabetes Control away from patient’s hands

VENEZUELA: A country where medicine shortage takes Good Diabetes Control away from patient’s hands

Every Diabetes organization and specialized medical associations worldwide, agree that good Diabetes control depends exclusively on the patient, which is why they are considered to be the most important member of the multidisciplinary health team. To achieve optimum control, people with Diabetes need to closely follow their doctor’s instructions, comply with their treatment, stay well informed and educated in Diabetes, frequently monitoring their blood sugar levels and make all necessary lifestyle changes.

Unfortunately this can’t always be followed, because due to the severe shortages of drugs, diagnostic equipment and hospital supplies, as a result of the deep economic crisis Venezuela is currently facing, good Diabetes control escapes the patient’s hands and proper hospital care doesn’t depend on the medical staff, leading Venezuela’s health care for people with Diabetes to intensive care.

From Diabetes Up to Date, we make a solidarity call to all Diabetes organizations, humanitarian institutions and Venezuelans from around the world, to join forces and send all the necessary assistance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) responsible for this in Venezuela, so it can be unconditionally supplied, regardless of political inclination, to anyone who needs it, and thus help in this urgent situation.

If you want to join our solidarity campaign “For Venezuelan Health”, to help our Venezuelan brothers, share this information with all your family and friends.

By Joe Cardozo

In every developed and developing country, the fact that “good Diabetes control depends entirely on the patient” is always true, however, the sad reality is that this doesn’t happen in Venezuela. Due to the severe medicine shortage Venezuelans can’t adequately control their blood sugar levels, which leads to acute and chronic complications as well as medical emergencies. This problem is compounded due to the high level of medical supply shortages in hospitals, causing Venezuelan doctors to not be able to adequately address any problems that may arise due to a glucose levels decompensation in patients with Diabetes in Venezuela.

To further aggravate the situation, Venezuelans also face rampant food shortages (over 57%), which lead people with Diabetes to consume “any products they can get”, thus leaving them without the alternative of looking healthier food choices and forcing them to queue for long hours without a guarantee that they’ll get the product they need, further increasing their stress levels due to the anxiety they are subjected to every day. As we all know, too much stress can cause depression, anxiety and anguish, and makes the body secrete more of a hormone called Cortisol, which in turn raises blood glucose levels, blood pressure, heart rhythm and promotes the formation of fat cells (adipocytes) which in turn increase the cells’ insulin resistance, all of which leads to greater Diabetes decompensations.

The great shortage of food, medicines and diagnostic products, leads to the appearance of acute complications and the increased incidence of accelerated chronic complications associated with poorly controlled Diabetes. The exaggerated shortage of medical equipment and surgical equipment in hospitals, dramatically increases blindness cases, amputations, premature death, etc., as a result of situations which could have ironically been easily avoided if the medical staff had had the hospital supplies they needed. On the other hand, there are no longer sufficient specialized doctors to deal with all of the emergencies and the few who get medical attention have to tell the patients and their families the truth, who often react violently due to the frustration of not being looked after due to a lack of medical and surgical equipment and hospital supplies.

Scarcity figures and shortages in Venezuela are alarming

According to statistical data handled by the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation, the lack of medicines in Caracas is of about 60%, while it can reach 70% in the rest of the country, which is why the president of the pharmaceutical guild Freddy Ceballos, announced the creation of a “united front to combat drug shortages.” During this announcement, Ceballos stated “given that the State is the main buyer, they need to boost productivity and bring the supplies the country needs, otherwise the drug and medical supplies shortages will persist”.

This excessive drug shortage includes all medicines, but mostly affects people with cancer, AIDS, Diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc., who need to follow a routine treatment, every day, to remain healthy and alive.

One of the most affected areas due to this shortage, is the one of medicines used to control Diabetes and because these have to be administered continuously once or several times a day, when they reach the pharmacies they sell out almost immediately after being placed on the shelves, due to the patients’ desperation who buy more than they need to keep some reserves for fear of running out of their medications. This behavior, of the people with Diabetes in Venezuela, especially if they use insulin, is reasonable if we take into account that if they don’t follow their treatment, their glucose levels will rise more and more. If blood glucose levels exceeded 240 mg/dl, a very dangerous condition called ketoacidosis or “Diabetic Coma” can occur, which could even result in death if the person isn’t treated in time in an emergency room, where the doctors can easily reverse the problem with a simple procedure, if they have the necessary medical supplies.

As for the severe hospital crisis due to the medical equipment and materials shortage, the Venezuelan Medical Federation reported that 95% of all public hospitals have only 5% of the medical supplies they need to treat patients, which is why they state that the health and lives of millions of Venezuelans are being endangered.

A clear example of the hospital crisis currently affecting Venezuelans, is the flagship University Hospital of Caracas, which is one of the most important ones in the country, where the operating emergency room, has been out of service for more than three years, and the only surgery room working in the hospital can’t serve all of those who need some type of surgery, which is why the according to the non-governmental organization Physicians for Health, there are over 3,000 people on the waiting list to have surgery, and the recovery area has many damaged beds, not leaving enough operational ones.

Private clinics aren’t excluded from this critical health situation, as reported by Carlos Rosales, president of the Venezuelan Association of Hospitals and Clinics. They have a report that indicates that 75 clinics out of the 234 affiliated to the association, have had to suspend elective surgery “because they don’t have the necessary supplies,” and added “the supplies, medicines and spare doctors shortage situation is the same crisis that last year led us to pursue a humanitarian emergency declaration throughout the Health sector”.

They’ve denounced this situation before the Human Rights Commission of the OAS

In March 2015, the NGO PROVEA denounced the systematic violation of the right of access to food and health enshrined in several articles of the Venezuelan Constitution before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS), as these stipulate that the State has to permanently and inexpensively guarantee a food and medicines supply, as well as appropriate and comprehensive free health care, because infringement endangers the lives of Venezuelans.

Rafael Uzcategui, general coordinator of PROVEA said “These shortages are part of the general diagnosis of the social rights decline. In Venezuela, it is becoming increasingly difficult to access food, medicines and hospital supplies, food sovereignty promises aren’t being fulfilled and the country’s harvested area isn’t being increased”. This constant violation of the articles of the Venezuelan Constitution by the state, which force it to ensure a continuous supply of medicines, food and hospital goods, threatens the physical integrity and lives of Venezuelans, which constitutes a flagrant violation of their human rights.

At Diabetes Up to Date we make a call for solidarity for everyone to join our “For Venezuelan Health” campaign

There are several Diabetes organizations and health institutions around the world who have the resources and volunteers for helping countries in times of crisis, due to natural disasters or emergencies. Among these we can mention, Insulin for Life, Insulin for Children, International Diabetes Federation (IDF), World Health Organization (WHO), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Doctors Without Borders and the International Red Cross, among others. Diabetes Up to Date wishes to become a communication bridge between these organizations, who have the necessary resources, and non-governmental organizations in Venezuela, who need such help and who are responsible for ensuring a better quality of life for people with Diabetes, and thus fairly distribute all aid, without making any political distinction within the people with Diabetes in Venezuela who need it.

Diabetes Up to Date also wants to make a call to all Venezuelans currently living outside of Venezuela, in different countries around the world, to join our campaign “For Venezuelan Health”, but helping a bit in this serious humanitarian crisis and organize to send all the help they can collect to the respective non-governmental health organizations who are responsible for receiving and distributing these in Venezuela.

If you want to join our solidarity campaign “For Venezuelan Health”, to help our Venezuelan brothers, share this information with all your family and friends.

At Diabetes Up to Date we are beginning the “For Venezuelan Health” solidarity campaign, where we will contact both worldwide the organization that can help as well as the non-governmental organizations in Venezuela who’ll be responsible for distributing this help unconditionally and freely to the people with Diabetes who urgently need it. At Diabetes Up to Date we’ll be reporting about the structuring, development and results of this campaign which seeks to preserve the physical integrity and lives of people with Diabetes in Venezuela.

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