Public hospitals in Venezuela are facing a major health crisis due to a severe lack of medications, equipment, electricity and food.
Seven newborn babies recently died in a hospital in Barcelona, Venezuela, according to The New York Times. A blackout hit the city, and respirators in the hospital's maternity ward shut down, claiming three young lives. Doctors kept the other babies alive by manually pumping air into their tiny lungs for hours, but four more died that night.
Under the late President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela used to give heating oil to poor Americans for free as recently as 2012, noted Policy Mic.
Now, the Venezuelan government only operates two days a week in an effort to save electrical power, reports The New York Times.
President Nicolas Maduro (pictured) declared a state of emergency, which many fear signals an imminent government collapse. Those type of signals often cause other countries to devalue a nation's currency, which results in runaway inflation. Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, has dropped to almost no value.
On top of inflation, Venezuela has had to deal with the dramatic drop in world oil prices. The country used to be rolling in money because it has the biggest oil reserves in the world. The socialist nation didn't save oil revenue money, and has fallen into a severe economic crisis.
A water shortage at the University of the Andes Hospital in Merida means medical personnel are not able to wash blood off of an operating table, notes The New York Times. The hospital's doctors have to use bottled seltzer water to prep their hands for surgery.
In Barcelona, two premature babies died while being transported to a public clinic because the ambulance lacked oxygen tanks. The Luis Razetti Hospital lacks working X-ray and kidney dialysis equipment. The hospital beds are full, so some patients use the floor, where they lie in their own blood.
"Some come here healthy, and they leave dead," Dr. Leandro Perez told The New York Times.
Political opponents of Maduro passed a law in January that allows the poverty-stricken country to accept aid from other nations for its public health care system.
Maduro has rejected that international aid, which he sees as a move to undermine his authority and privatize the public hospital system.
"I doubt that anywhere in the world, except in Cuba, there exists a better health system than this one," Maduro has stated.
"There are people dying for lack of medicine, children dying of malnutrition and others dying because there are no medical personnel," Dr. Yamila Battaglini, a surgeon at Luis Razetti Hospital, said.
The hospital cannot print X-rays, so patients have to photograph their X-rays with their own smartphones and take the pictures to their doctors.
When patients need medications or equipment for their surgery, the doctors give the relatives a list of what is needed. The relatives must then buy what's on the list from the black market because Venezuela's government can't afford to purchase the items.
Patients also have to supply basic items for a hospital stay, such as blankets, sheets, pillows, diapers and toilet paper.
According to the Daily Mail, Maduro often accuses the U.S. of illegally interfering with his country.
Maduro held a news conference in his presidential palace on May 17, and said U.S. planes "with lethal technical abilities" had twice violated his country's airspace in seven days.
"Our military aviation detected the illegal entry, for unusual espionage tasks, of the Boeing 707 E-3 Sentry, which is an airborne early warning control center system that has all the mechanisms for espionage," Maduro said.
It's not clear what the U.S. would supposedly want to steal from the economically ravaged country.