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How to make the entire hospital work for 35 zloty? A lesson from Venezuela.

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3 minutes

Rubio, western Venezuela. On the outskirts of a city with a population of over 70,000, there is an inconspicuous building – the Benedict XIV’ Health Clinic. The only such center in the city. Cracked walls and flashing light bulbs highlight the problems that have been faced in recent years. Without urgent support, these may be the last days of the clinic, which, despite obstacles, is trying to function in a declining country.

At the Rubio clinic, your day begins with a supply check – as long as financial assistance comes in, you can buy medications and disposable gloves that will fill your cupboards for only a moment before you need to use them. In many other clinics, there is nothing to check for a long time. Empty refrigerators are waiting for vaccine ampoules, drawers for syringes. And doctors with a little hope that the situation will change and they will be able to help those who need help.

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We endured the hardships with the patients, often cooking meals on a wood-fired oven because there were no other options available. Power cuts, fuel shortages, inflation, and money make it difficult to maintain a minimum quality of life. Maintaining this medical center will help prevent doctors from going abroad. I thought about it myself but never tried it – tells us Marisol Pineda Pardo, a pediatrician connected with Rubio since birth, in whom she was brought up in a Venezuelan-Colombian family. In the clinic, as long as there are payments, she can earn a hundred dollars a month. Although money in Venezuela has a completely different value, beyond common sense.

Rushing inflation turned the country’s finances upside down. International support is also limited – the funds transferred allow to cover only part of the costs, and do not solve the problem of market shortages. Meanwhile, the hour of operation of the clinic in Rubio is … 35 zlotys. This amount includes all the daily life-saving expenses of the center.

So far, 5.6 million people have fled Venezuela, seeking refuge primarily in the neighboring countries of South America. It is the largest recorded migration crisis in the history of the Americas. Every day, 700 to 900 people leave the country – some of them choose a dangerous sea route trying to get to Trinidad and Tobago, most decide to walk for several kilometers. The first people to leave the country after Nicolas Maduro came to power were qualified workers who had the means to start living in a new place. The medical team of the Rubio clinic was not in this group and together they remain at the station, although it can be difficult. The specter of escalating conflicts with the criminal groups present in the country also reaches this city, located only several kilometers from the border with Colombia, in which a completely different fight is taking place. For another day of operation of a small clinic in Rubio.



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