Just when you think the situation in Venezuela cannot possibly get any worse, it does. Given the current economic climate in Venezuela, the country found itself dead last in the Frazier Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World: 2016 Annual Report. As its citizens struggle to obtain basic necessities like food and water, the nation’s hospitals have reportedly been in a miserable state of disrepair.
Earlier this year, the disturbing realities of Venezuela’s hospitals were brought to light. In some areas, surgeries were being performed on blood-ridden hospital beds that had not been cleaned for days because there were no cleaning supplies or even water. One doctor spoke grimly of the dire conditions of the hospitals by commenting that, “the death of a baby is our daily bread.”
Another doctor in a small port town that, “some come here health[y], and they leave dead.” Clearly, the situation in Venezuela is dire, but there is another medical issue that has not been addressed until recently, and that is the state of those suffering from mental illness.
Antibiotics and other medical essentials are already almost impossible to come by, so it should be no surprise that psychiatric medication, like antipsychotics, are also in short supply. .
Accel Simeone suffers from schizophrenia. Thanks to Venezuela’s crumbling economy, he has not has access to his medication for weeks. Simeone has kept commenting that the voices in his head keep tormenting him, but there is nothing that can be done for him. Without needed medicine he has been unable to control his disease. Simeone has even insisted that the voices have instructed him to kill his brother.
“I didn’t want to do it,” Simeone told the New York Times. Unable to control himself against the voices in his head, Simeone found an electric grinder from his garage and chose to harm himself instead of his brother. Luckily, Simeone’s father found him after he put one arm into the grinder, but before he was able to do any further damage.
Simeone is just one of many mental patients suffering because of the downturn in the country’s economy. With limited amounts of medication, mental institutions have had no choice but to release patients by the thousands. Those whose mental state is too far deteriorated to justify being released, are now living under horrendous conditions. Without medication to restrain them, many spend their days strapped to hospital beds in order to prevent them from attacking the hospital staff.
Additionally, for those who are suicidal, the doctors have had to lock them up or strip them of their clothes to protect these patients from themselves. Unfortunately, the doctors cannot save everyone. After being off her anti-depressants for some time, Yolanda Sayago decided that the pain was too great to bear and she jumped off of the ninth floor of a building.
Medication isn’t the only issue, like the rest of the country these patients are also starving. In one hospital, a schizophrenic woman was found crawling on the floor eating fruit found in a pile of open sewage. Another starving Schizophrenic patient was so desperate, she bit the nose of off her bunkmate in the middle of the night.
One of the most frustrating aspects to this mental health crisis is that most of these patients lived relatively normal lives while they still had access to their medication before the economy took a turn for the worst.
For those suffering from mental ailments, this is what daily life looks like in a socialist country like Venezuela. Other countries and private charities have offered to help the struggling country, but President Maduro has continually refused to accept help from capitalist nations.
Many have attempted to send supplies, but President Maduro will not provide the proper import permits, so the supplies are stuck in various foreign cities.
For President Maduro, clinging to his pride and socialist ideals is more important than sparing the lives of his countrymen. This is the kind of grim reality socialism begets.