Facing COVID-19 for $8 a month, the reality of doctors in Central Venezuela

Physicians at the Maracay Hospital protest: "We demand dignity and respect." They want a living wage, reminding patients and the public in general that they only make $8 a month. They also asked to be given priority for gasoline and biosecurity equipment.

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By Alfredo Morales.

Through a statement published on September 20 in social networks and WhatsApp groups, doctors and residents of the Central Hospital of Maracay (HCM in Spanish), in Aragua, requested dignified salaries, priority for the purchase of car fuel and bio-security equipment.

Doctors, nurses, and health-care personnel have been disproportionately hit by COVID-19 in Venezuela, due to insufficient biosecurity equipment and lack of running water. Some 132 doctors have died, out of 547 total deaths, almost 25%.

“We do not demand applause or recognition; we demand respect, dignity, and prioritization,” the text says. It also states that the doctors are not refusing their shifts and duties, but most of them do not have gasoline or even bus fare to go to the hospital.

You must read Venezuela: 32 doctors have died of coronavirus between June and August

“We do not have a fuel service, and we cannot afford the international price. We have a salary of eight dollars a month, which is not enough to cover our minima needs, not even basic food,” the statement says. The international price for gasoline was set at $0.50 per liter by the Maduro regime. Doctors at HCM make about $8 a month.

Physicians and residents also expressed a need for equipment to care for patients with COVID-19. Most purchase their gloves and face masks on their own.

“The body of resident doctors and MHC specialists calls on the authorities because we are seriously affected by the situation in the country (…) we want respect and dignity,” the text concludes.

El Pitazo learned that the doctors and residents of the Central Hospital of Maracay asked for support from the College of Physicians of Aragua and the NGO Doctors United of Venezuela to avoid a witch hunt by the Maduro regime and to ensure that there is no increase in harassment at the hospital following these complaints.

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