Ten days and six deaths. That is the number of children with cancer who died between May 10 and 20 at the teaching Hospital Manuel Nuñez Tovar in Maturin, capital of Monagas state.
The victims were age between 20 months and 12 years old, according to the figures from the pediatric service to which El Pitazo had access on 21 May.
The most recent death occurred on May 20. A 20-month-old baby who was receiving treatment since he was seven months old; he was waiting for a specific treatment for his bone marrow. Like the other children, he suffered by the lack in the supply of drugs from the Venezuelan Social Security Institute, and the absence of specialists to provide an accurate diagnosis. Maturin hospital is one year and four months without a pediatric oncologist.
The lack of financial resources to pay for the lab tests, which should be done at the Hospital it another factor. The center is not processing samples for HIV, hepatitis, VDRL, urea, creatinine, or other requested by the specialists, according to testimonies from relatives of hospitalized patients at the health-care center.
The chief of the pediatric emergency department in the Maturin’s Hospital, Darwin Jimenez, said the diagnosis of the disease had complicated in Maturin when the regime of Nicolas Maduro decreed a strict quarantine because the laboratories were not working.
Jimenez also added the lack of blood products for transfusion of red blood cells or plasma. The absence of these products leads to relapse and, eventually, the death of the patient.
A hospital employee, who preferred not to identify herself to avoid reprisals, told El Pitazo that although children with cancer are isolated, they do not receive timely care. She explained that the resident doctors are the ones who attend to them and during the nights, parents must administer the treatment to their children so that they comply with it on time.
“There is not even human albumin; the relatives have to buy it, which is difficult for those who lack economic resources, as is the case with most of the sick who attend the hospital. Also, there is no room for intensive care for children, so those who have problems have no place to put them,” she said.