Despite some private international media reporting “economic chaos” and that social missions have ground to a halt with President Hugo Chavez still recovering from cancer surgery, the missions continue working.
Recently there have been advances in freely available high cost medicine and the development of the social welfare programs for children and the elderly, with all education and health facilities continuing to function normally.
Attention to children and the elderly
The two social missions for older people and for children living in poverty will begin their fourth stage since their launch in 2011, which involves training some 2,000 volunteers and 3,000 professionals.
Yadira Cordova, vice-president for the social work area for the Venezuelan national executive announced yesterday that the training in community work and pedagogy will be done through a special masters degree specifically designed for these missions.
Also, she said the coordinating team of the two missions will carry out a revision and inspection of those people receiving benefits through the mission for children.
The program, called Mission Children of Venezuela, involves a small monthly payment to children under 18 and pregnant teenagers living in families experiencing extreme poverty. Families with a member with a disability can also receive the social benefit.
Some families’ conditions may have changed since their registration in 2011, if a member has obtained work, got involved in socio-productive projects, or received housing. The coordinating team will also analyse the results obtained by the missions so far.
However, those awarded pensions through the mission for the elderly will not be re-assessed, as those pensions are “for life”, Cordova said.
She added that the government was considering launching more new missions aimed at extreme poverty, involving “direct accompaniment of families, so that the battle against poverty can be much more effective”.
According to Venezuela’s National Statistics Institute (INE) and a broad census carried out in 2011, general poverty in Venezuela is at 17.6%, and extreme poverty at 6.7%. This translates to around 2.5 million people in Venezuela affected by extreme poverty.
High cost medicine
Through Venezuela’s public pension institute, the IVSS, the government is also creating chemotherapy rehabilitation rooms, Mercedes Pereira, director of the pharmacotherapy section of the IVSS, announced yesterday.
Rehabilitation would include hairdresser services, psychological support, and modern radiosurgery equipment.
Pereira also announced that another public high-cost medicine pharmacy had been inaugurated in Cumana, Sucre state, with 8 months worth of inventory.
Such pharmacies supply medicine to cancer patients, but also to people with less common illnesses. There are now 68 such pharmacies in the country, and their medicines are supplied completely free.
“We have 1,100 patients registered so far [to receive the high-cost medicine],” she said, referring to the new pharmacy in Sucre.
Further, over 40,000 people with addiction problems were looked after by the Jose Feliz Ribas Foundation in 2012, according to its president, Rafael Sanchez. Patients were diagnosed and treated free of charge.
Sanchez said that when the government created the foundation in 2011, it started off with 13 centres to treat people with addictions, now has 25, and is aiming to have a total of 38 by the end of this year. According to Sanchez, the treatment patients receive is multi-faceted, and includes medicinal, psychological, therapeutic, and social assistance.
Housing and crime
Housing construction and allocation continues through the Housing Mission, with the governor of Carabobo, Francisco Ameliach, informing that his state aims to build 35,000 housing units this year.
He said his state needs to build a total of 200,000 units, to cover the need for housing, and that should take a total of six years to do.
The numbers were decided on in a meeting between the governor and representatives of the housing mission over the weekend.
Venezuelan news agency AVN reports that in Zulia state, the mission ‘full life’, aimed at attacking crime, is promoting community sports and cultural events. Last week the program extended to the Sabaneta prison, in Maracaibo, where prisoners have been receiving dance-therapy classes.
According to AVN, under the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) governor, many plazas and cultural centres, which under the previous opposition governor had remained closed, unused, and unmaintained, have been opened up to community activities.