By Tamara Pearson orginally published by www.venezuelanalysis.com on April 17th 2012
Venezuela’s Barrio Adentro Health Mission now involves 12,898 Cuban and Venezuelan doctors, 4,595 dentists, 7,772 nurses, 6702 community medical surgeries, 551 medical diagnostic centres, 580 rehabilitation rooms, 33 high technology centres, and 459 optometrist centres, according to Vice-president Elias Jaua. The mission, which provides free health consultations, exams and x-rays, rehabilitation therapy, medicine, specialised assistance, and preventative care, among others, celebrated the ninth anniversary of its creation in April 2012.
Among the 745,078,000 consultations conducted over the last nine years, 36 million were for optometry appointments, and 676,790 people have received eye operations, Jaua said yesterday at the inauguration of another Integral Rehabilitation Room in Miranda state. Further, 50,000 people have travelled to Cuba to receive medical treatment.
80,900 Cubans have worked in Venezuela as part of the mission, with 31,331 currently in the country, including dentists, optometrists, and sports health workers. Jaua said that while “the U.S. government sends solders to other countries to kill people, the Cuban government sends its doctors [to other countries] to save lives.”
The Barrio Adentro mission was the first mission the government created. It was the result of an agreement between Cuban and Venezuela, and aims to guarantee health access to the poorest, or excluded sectors of the population, as well as to all Venezuelans and those residing in the country. While Venezuela had a free public health system prior to the Chavez government, the few hospitals were underequipped, understaffed, and waiting times were so long that many people were not attended to.