Patients seeking care at Venezuela’s hospitals may have more to worry about besides the lack of available medications and supplies. According to a report from AFP, the food being served in the hospitals is so foul and unhygienic it may pose a health risk to the patients who eat it.
Due to the country’s continuing societal and economic collapse, nutritious foods are now hard to come by, and many hospitals can only afford to feed their patients a meal of unseasoned rice and lentils or one small corn arepa. The meal, which totals less than one cup, is given to every patient equally, which means that patients who have medical conditions that may be exacerbated by a high-starch diet have no choice but to eat the gruel or starve.
“I eat whatever they give me,” said 40-year-old diabetic Carla Lopez, who is a patient University Hospital in Caracas while speaking to AFP. Lopez was admitted to the hospital due to her diabetic-related foot ulcers, and the hospital’s unnutritious meals make it hard for her to control her blood sugar levels.
Babies born in Venezuelan hospitals don’t fare much better. According to AFP, many hospitals have resorted to feeding newborns intravenous fluid, because they don’t have enough baby formula. At Concepcion Palacios maternity clinic in Caracas, babies whose mothers can’t breastfeed and can’t afford formula are given the same intravenous “serum” the hospital uses to keep their adult patient’s hydrated.
Concepcion Palacios isn’t alone, according to a report issued by Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, “66 percent” of all hospitals, both private and state-owned, lack enough formula to feed newborns.
It isn’t just the lack of nutritious options threatening patients – the kitchens in which the meals are prepared are incredibly unhygienic. With dirty kitchens littered with trash, one unnamed hospital employee told AFP that “garbage piles up at the facility.”
“There are cockroaches in the area where they prepare the baby bottles,” Silvia Bolivar, a veteran Venezuelan nurse told reporters from AFP. She also pointed out that rodents are frequently seen in the hospital as well, and water leaks in from the walls and ceilings.
Unfortuenly for the patients and the healthcare workers, soap and other disinfectants are also in short supply, leaving hospital staff unable to properly sterilize things such as baby bottles.
Venezuela’s president, President Nicolas Maduro, continues to blame the sanctions placed on the country by the United States for Venezuela’s inability to purchase more medicine and other equipment. According to AFP, 80 percent of drugs in the country are in ” short supply.”