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Venezuela Healthcare

The health sector comprises a public sub-sector, made up of multiple institutions that operate in an unintegrated, centralised fashion, and by the private sub-sector. The public sub-sector is made up of the Ministry of Health and Social Development (MSDS), the Venezuelan Social Security Institute (IVSS), the Institute for Social Welfare of the Ministry of Education (IPASME), the Institute of Social Welfare of the Armed Forces (IPSFA), and the Mayoralty of the Capital City. The network of public health facilities includes several levels of care and is distributed throughout the country.

There are 23 Regional Bureaus of the MSDS throughout the country. The MSDS functions as a decentralised intergovernmental health system based on levels of care, with state health Bureaus and health districts. It has a network of hospitals and out-patient clinics, and conducts promotional activities, prevention, and health education. Internal Regulations to determine the definite structure of the MSDS are currently being prepared. The IVSS is a centralised agency with a single authority in the central area, which performs the functions of financing, insurance, and provision. It has a network of hospitals and out-patient clinics. Its financing is derived from three sources: the State, workers, and employers. The sources of financing are public and private. The IPASME is a centralised agency with a single authority in the central area, which performs functions of financing, insurance and provision. It has only out-patient clinics, and contracts with other agencies.

It is expected that 10% of the national budget will be allocated to health, which, together with the contributions from other sources, will make it possible to create a collective fund for the benefit of population segments that do not have the ability to pay or access to financial intermediaries. The sources of financing for the health sector are: the central government, through budgetary transfers from sector agencies and from the constitutional allocation of funds to the state governments, insurance companies, and private groups; national resources from the National Health Fund; the state governments, through agreements and contracts with the municipal governments and health service centres and with financing modalities such as, the Social Development Research Fund and others.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare regulates the technology in the services according to guidelines that take into account the complexity of the establishments and their geographical and population coverage. In the private sector, state-of-the-art technology has been applied in the most highly developed geographical, population, and social centres. Equipment maintenance problems are becoming worse due to disorganized services, poor supervision and control, inadequate technical information, and the lack of training for personnel.

In 1995, the network of public health care establishments consisted of 583 hospitals and 4,027 out-patient centres (662 in urban areas and 3,365 in rural areas). The private sector had 344 hospitals. The average number of beds was 2.4 per 1,000 population. Private health services are concentrated in the large population centres and serve higher-income persons. There is a trend toward emergency care, in both the hospitals and out-patient centres. There are more emergency surgeries than elective ones, and preventive consultations are infrequent.

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