Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Friday he has asked the United Nations to help the South American nation address severe medicine shortages, a rare acknowledgement of the country’s desperate situation.
“I have asked the United Nations to regularize the whole medicine issue. The United Nations has the most advanced plans to recover the pharmaceutical industry’s productive capacity,” the leftist leader said in a speech broadcast on national television.
With the oil-producing nation’s economic crisis accelerating, shortages of food and many essential goods, including medicine, have become rampant.
Triple digit inflation and a decaying socialist economic model have left medications ranging from simple anti-inflammatory drugs to chemotherapy medication out of reach for most Venezuelans.
Maduro earlier on Friday met with Jessica Faieta, Assistant Administrator and Director of the UN Development Program, according to state television.
“I have asked them for support to continue making permanent progress in the regularization of medicines for hospitals,” he said.
Maduro did not specify the type of aid he requested.
Horror stories have emerged from hospitals of patients losing limbs for lack of antibiotics or dying for lack of cancer drugs, as hospitals have just three percent of the medicine and supplies they need, according to the Venezuelan Medical Federation.
Maduro said the medicine shortage is one of the “wounds” sustained in the “economic war” led by opposition politicians with the help of the United States.
“Resisting has been worth it. Socialism is worth it,” he said.
Critics say the problems are the result of dysfunctional price and currency controls that have decimated private industry.
Venezuela is home to the world’s largest oil reserves, but has been hit hard by low oil prices in recent years.
The fractured opposition is trying to force Maduro from power, but despite sinking popularity he has so far managed to stymie their efforts.