Ten years ago, public hospitals in Venezuela performed on average only 141 children’s cardiac surgeries a year. Currently more than 1,100 procedures are performed annually.
The data were released Tuesday by the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, during the third anniversary celebration of the Dr. Gilberto Rodriguez Ochoa Children’s Cardiac Hospital of Latin America, inaugurated August 20, 2006. “The increase has been 1,400 percent. Before, children died waiting, the lists were very long. Now, we are ready for the first children’s heart transplant.”
The president emphasized that “the Cardiac Hospital is a symbol of the social transformation in Venezuela….it demonstrates that it is absolutely possible to provide highly efficient, humane public health care.”
From August 20, 2006 to August 1, 2009, the children’s cardiac hospital has served 3,252 patients, 45 of whom were foreigners from Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gambia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, and the Dominican Republic.
Dr. Gilberto Rodriguez Ochoa Children’s Cardiac Hospital of Latin America was created to provide free care to patients between the ages of 0 and 18 who have heart defects.
In Venezuela an estimated 4,500 children a year are born with heart defects. Seventy percent of them need surgical intervention before August 20, 2006 only 600 received operations among eight regional children’s cardiovascular centers.
Radio Nacional de Venezuela, Press Unit of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States/ August 26 2009