needs urgent foreign medical aid, pharma group says
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[January 21, 2016]
By Reuters Staff
CARACAS (Reuters) - With scores of
medicines in short supply due to a severe financial squeeze, Venezuela
is suffering a "humanitarian crisis" and requires rapid international
assistance, according to a major pharmaceutical association.
The Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation listed 150 medicines, from
those for hypertension to cancer, as well as basics such as
prophylactics and antibiotics, which are scarce in the OPEC nation
of 29 million people.
"The national government must accept we are in a humanitarian crisis
in the health sector, with patients dying across our territory for
lack of medicines," said association president Freddy Ceballos in a
"It's necessary to activate all mechanisms of international health
assistance to solve this crisis as soon as possible," he added,
without specifying what aid he thought should be sought.
The health ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the
pharmaceutical association's statement, but Venezuela's socialist
government has bristled at criticism of its health system, which
former President Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer in 2013, spent
lavishly on during an oil bonanza.
It accuses local groups of exaggerating problems and says the
widespread shortages in Venezuela - of food as well as medicines -
are due to an "economic war" by foes.
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Long lines form daily outside pharmacies, and doctors and patients
constantly complain of lack of medicines and equipment.
Maduro last week decreed an "economic emergency" in the
recession-hit nation with the fastest inflation in the world rings
up a roughly $10 billion foreign debt bill this year amid plunging
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