5 Obstacles to Receiving Health Care in Venezuela

 

The medicine prescribed to me the last time I was sick in Venezuela

The medicine prescribed to me the last time I was sick in Venezuela

What do you have if you don’t have your health?

I’m a pretty healthy person. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and only a small portion of chicken now and then. I stay active running, walking, going to the gym, or doing yoga.  I could sleep more than my normal 6 hours of sleep, but nobody is perfect.

I was really surprised this school year when I started getting bloody noses at least once a month starting in August. At first I thought it was because I had moved here from Oregon so there was some environmental change. Then I noticed that it happened if I quickly bent down to pick something up.  Then I started to worry about blowing my nose because it might bleed a little bit.  I noticed that the nosebleeds were happening more and more frequently, but these things were still manageable for me.

Now I’m starting to freak out a little bit.  Last night I was in a dead sleep when I felt liquid hitting my pillowcase. I crack open my eye to see blood on my pillowcase! I’ve also started getting nosebleeds while doing simple stuff like brushing my teeth or putting on makeup.  Or on Friday when a nosebleed started while I was drinking my morning coffee and continued for three hours until someone told me to put ice on it. This is not normal.

Normally, in the US I would visit my doctor, school health clinic, or some other clinic depending on the health insurance I had at the time.  I’m not living in the US now.

5 Obstacles to Receiving Health Care in Venezuela:

  1. Language barrier: I have no problem using Spanish to get around in my day-to-day life. Shopping, eating, traveling, salsa dancing = no problem. However, talking about medical things and my medical history in Spanish is not something I can do.
  2. Finding a doctor: I have nobody to give me a referral.  I don’t know where the nearest hospital is. I don’t know if the doctor is reputable. I have tried typing it into Google but I don’t get results.
  3. Trust: I’m pretty comfortable asking people for help (a necessity for a female solo traveler), so when I do ask everyone I meet for a phone number or appointment with a doctor I need to trust them.  I need to trust that I’m not being scammed over because I’m a foreigner. I also need to trust that they know what they are doing.
  4. Transportation: there is no public transportation in my town. My school provides us with cars, but we aren’t allowed to drive them out of the city. Everyone that I do ask says I should go to Maracaibo, which is an hour away. I will most likely need to hire a taxi driver to get there and back.  Not cheap unless you have access to dollars so I’m guessing it will cost me $15USD or $106USD depending on the exchange rate.
  5. Access to medicine: I don’t know if I will need any medicines or follow up care, but generally every time I have spoken with a doctor here, they like to prescribe a little something. That means you have to find it. They might like to prescribe something, but it doesn’t mean that one can find the medicine in this country. Just think: if the average person can’t find toilet paper or dish soap, why would they have some medicine that a doctor has to prescribe?

Before you move overseas think about how you would react to any of these obstacles. Talking to enough locals and investing enough time can hopefully overcome all of these obstacles.

Wish me luck!

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