Healthcare in Venezuela



The end of the Bolivarian Revolution and the start of the ‘low or no-cost’ health care services delivered by the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security made this country healthcare system one of the most advanced in the region. However, the situation changed and in 2015, the Venezuelan healthcare system began crumbling down.

For the past two years, Venezuela tried its best to hide its crippling healthcare system from the eyes of the rest of the world. The local government prohibited media access to state-run hospitals and penalised health workers who tried to speak up. April of this year, the health ministry also reported that the number of infant deaths in Venezuela rose by 30% and maternal mortality jumped by 65% in 2016. Medicines and medical supplies are alarmingly short in supply and the current President Nicolas Maduro still refuses to lift the ban on international aid that could significantly help the country and its people.

Healthcare Coverage

Venezuela's healthcare system is a national universal model. A state-funded social program called Mission Barrio Adentro seeks to provide publicly funded healthcare and dental care to all citizens. Treatments in state-funded hospitals are free, and only charges for prescriptions are made. Medicines bought in public hospitals are at a very low cost. Indigents get free treatment, and there is a very minimal charge on prescriptions. This makes Venezuelan healthcare far ahead of other Latin American healthcare systems. Getting international health insurance in Venezuela is essential. There have been considerable improvements in the country's healthcare system, but having private health insurance would ensure ample coverage at all times.

Doctors and Pharmacies

Many doctors in Venezuela have received their education from Western schools. Venezuelan medical schools have also turned out well-trained doctors. Healthcare facilities have increased in number and improved in quality in the past few years. There are also more healthcare personnel, which may be due to a more educated populace, as well as skilled foreign workers coming to Venezuela. More Venezuelan women are also choosing nursing as a profession. Despite the increase on the number of locals who opt to pursue medical professions, many experienced and senior physicians choose to go abroad for better pay. Venezuela is now experiencing a ‘brain drain’ mainly because of the poor management and corruption in the healthcare system.

Venezuelan pharmacies are identified by a red light in the store window. Most pharmacies are well supplied for minor illnesses and health problems. Medication can be bought without prescription and pharmacists can provide free medical advice. There is a rotating schedule for pharmacies to ensure 24-hour availability. Schedules for the pharmacy on duty are posted in local newspapers, "Turnos."

Hospitals and Emergency Numbers

The country's healthcare services are provided using both public and private medical facilities. Public hospitals in Venezuela are usually covered by social security funds and are a source of affordable treatment for Venezuelans and expatriates alike. However, public hospitals in Venezuela are often overcrowded and are lacking with proper diagnostic equipment that’s why expats that are financially capable are advised to go to private hospitals in Caracas. Below are some of the recommended hospitals for expats in Venezuela:

Chivacoa Street, San Román Section, Urbanization the Mercedes, Caracas - Capital District

Tel: (+58 212) 9990111

  • Clinica Santa Sofia

Caracas, Miranda, Venezuela

Tel: +58 212-9811000

Caracas, Venezuela

Tel: +58 (0212) 9496411

Santa Fe Norte, Caracas, Venezuela

Tel: 0212 9795275

Dial 171 or (*171 if using a mobile phone) for public ambulance services or police assistance. Ambulance services are widely available. Private ambulance services are also offered but are costly.


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