Monday, August 08, 2005

A personal account of Barrio Adentro - or socialism does make you feel better!

From a great Blog written by a group of Aussies visiting the Revolution in Venezuela as part of the Venezuela Solidarity Brigade. An unexpected real-life comparision of the private clinics versus the newly built Cuban-staffed clinics in Caracas exposes the truth about Venezuela's new committment to health care for all.

A Personal Account of Barrio Adentro...or it is true, socialism does make you feel better

Coming to Venezuela to witness the revolution and the social missions at its heart, I have ended up having a closer view of one of the most important missions - Barrio Adentro (Into the Neighbourhood) - than I might have hoped. Or cared for, for that matter.

Barrio Adentro was established around two years ago as a way to bring free, quality health care to the poor majority, in whose
neighbourhoods doctors in the past have mostly shunned and who can often not afford the fees charged. In order to get Barrio Adentro off the ground, the government invited Cuban medical volunteers to help staff the clinics established in the poor areas, whilst Cuban doctors (sociailst Cuba has a world renowned health care system and an internationalist approach, with more doctors volunteering abroad than the WHO) teach courses in the free Bolivarian University in order to create a new generation on Venezuelan doctors to replace them. There are currently more than 20 000 Cuban medical personal in the country.

The Venezuelan government invited the Cubans in after first
attempting to recruit Venezuelan doctors to the cause. However only around 50 Venezuelan doctors raised their hands, most - a product of the old system based on using their careers to make themselves more comfortable - declining the governments offer of a US$600 monthly stipend to bring health-care to the poor. The Cubans, who accepted $200 per month, have taken to their roles and proven a big hit with the community. Not being in it for the money, but out of genuine humanitarian concerns, they treat their patients with genuine consideration and respect and have only their best interests at heart.



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