The complex epidemiological situation that Venezuela is going through during the pandemic has deepened the collapse of the public healthcare system. Its seriousness has been repeatedly denounced by human rights organizations, trade unions, and labor unions for years. The progressive deterioration of the hospital infrastructure; the lack of medical supplies; the poor health conditions in health centers; the lack of access to public services such as electricity, water, and waste collection; and the abysmal working conditions of health workers constitute a scenario of extreme gravity and make difficult an effective response to the health crisis by Covid-19.
To date, at least 71 health sector workers have lost their lives due to infection by Covid-19, which represents 25.7% of the total number of deaths in the country since the beginning of the pandemic. According to available statistics, the percentage of deaths among health workers in Venezuela is the highest in Latin America and one of the highest in the world. This distressing situation is the result of the regime’s failure to comply with its international obligations to provide health professionals with all the necessary protective equipment and supplies to carry out their duties with minimum risk of contagion. The ineptitude, improvisation, corruption and lack of expertise of the de facto government of Nicolás Maduro has prevented health personnel from receiving the biosecurity equipment in a timely and permanent manner and in strict compliance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization.
In this regard, we regret the significant death of the medical professionals:
Rafael Páez, María González, Ramón Galue, Ana Henríquez, Braulio Arteaga, Luis Urdaneta Patricio Rodríguez (Capital District); Alexis Moya, Yanira Paruta, Graciali Rangel and José Guzmán (Anzoátegui State); Anselmo Rosales (Aragua State); Yamil Aboud (Barinas State); José Clavier, Sandra Ramos, Libia Carrión, Alcira Perache, Oswaldo Albornoz and Ramón García (Bolivar State); Henry Álvarez, Morella Martínez and Patricio Torres (Carabobo State); Juan Barreno and María Martínez (Falcón State); Luis Ramírez (Lara State); Adán Muñoz and Elsy Santander (Mérida State); Liz Duque (Monagas State); Isidro González (Nueva Esparta State); Luis Manuel Azuaje (Sucre State); Guillermo Sáenz (Vargas State) Samuel Viloria, Marisela Ramírez, Solangel Scandela, Jorge Leal, Manuel Romero, Carlos Castillo, Nelly Hernández, Jesús Romero, Marisol Tigrera, Franklin Jiménez, Analy Fernández, Édgar Rabinovish, Jairo Valbuena, Rannefer Valbuena, Amable Amado, Édgar Manzaneros, Cipriano Brito, Alonso Adrianza, Héctor Millán, Alexander Gotera, Luis Felipe Salazar, Jesús Peña and Luis Sulbarán (Zulia State); the nursing professionals: Zaida Zárate (Apure State); Rosalia Bonalde and Climer Forty (Bolivar State); Carmen Guillén (Mérida State); Carmen Corro (Vargas State); Keyla Molaya, Nadedsa Villasmil, Felipe Silva, Maritza Urdaneta, Ninfa Luz Caraballo, Yaletzi Carrillo and Juan Carlos Feria (Zulia State); and from the health sector workers: Alfonso Duarte, Miguel Colina and Jazmín Alcalá (Capital District); and, Leonardo Gutiérrez (Falcón State);
Those lives could have been preserved if they had all the protection equipment. To their family and loved ones, we extend our condolences, support and solidarity.
Finally, this Presidential Commission for Human Rights and Victim Care demands the following points from Nicolás Maduro’s regime and international organizations with competence in health matters:
1. To adopt urgent measures to preserve the lives of healthcare workers under conditions of equality and without discrimination;
2. Activate the mechanisms for providing personal protection equipment to all health centers in the country in accordance with international standards;
3. Supervise healthcare workers’ permanent, sustained and continuous compliance with the health protocols recommended by the World Health Organization, both in the workplace and outside of health care facilities;
4. Ensure that healthcare workers enjoy decent working conditions in terms of salary, rest days, food, transportation and access to public services; and
5. Refrain from any act of criminalization, threats, prosecution, and attacks by regime authorities, particularly through publicly owned media channels or pressure against health sector workers.
HUMBERTO PRADO SIFONTES
Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights and Victim Care