Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dispensing lots of good old fashioned TLC 

This blog has previously shown that huge efforts on the part of the Chavez government to improve the level of medical care available to Venezuelans, and particularly poor Venezuelans. What started out with the by now world famous Barrio Adendtro program has long since expanded to more sophisticated ambulatory care sites, then to fully integral diagnostic centers with the most advanced equipment available anywhere and is now moving into completely renovated and/or new hospitals.

These great programs have been done all along with a tremendous sense of social solidarity, not just across class lines in Venezuela but even to the poor throughout Latin America. Thousands have been flown, at Venezuelan expense, to Cuba for sophisticated surgeries including the correction of cataracts. And the brand new pediatric cardiology Hospital in Caracas (which we should never forget the opposition heaped lots of scorn on) has already helped hundreds of seriously ill children from all over Latin America.

Another component of this is that the Chavez government has set up hundreds of rehabilitation centers all over Venezuela. This is really a very vital and almost always overlooked area of medical care. Of course, the wealthy have always realized its importance and availed themselves of it. Rehad centers in the U.S. have become all the rage amongst the wealthy elite from Betty Ford to Britney Spears (substance abuse rehab centers for lower income Americans are generally jails). Physical rehab centers are equally important after a person has sustained a serious injury has physical impairments for any other reasons.

Under previous Venezuelan governments poor people who had disabilities or injuries were completely left to their own devices. In fact, such was the level of indifference that the Caracas Metro system didn’t even have elevators to allow it to be accessed by people in wheelchairs. It is the Chavez government which is now spending many millions to retrofit the metro stations with elevators.

And it is spending many millions building worthy rehabilitation centers which are accessible to all. Lets take a look at one in Playon:

Wow, what a setting. Ok, most Venezuelan rehab centers aren’t in locations this idyllic – but it is what’s inside that counts anyways.

Notice how neat and clean this thing is. That is very important from a health perspective (not spreading disease) and also from a psychological perspective of making people feel better by having them in a very pleasant environment. In this respect I have to say I really like the garden courtyard – it is a very nice touch.

Also, this is very indicative of something I’ve pointed out before regarding the Chavez government – it doesn’t build junk just to meet targets. It insists on building quality – even more so when what is being built is meant for the poor. The world over the poor our showered with third rate junk, built on the cheap by stingy governments, which quickly falls apart (and of course, the poor always get blamed for it having fallen apart – “they don’t take proper care of things” the right wing jerks squeal as if shody construction had nothing to do with it). Not the Chavez government though. Last year when we took an up-close look at the low income housing it was building we were amazed by the high quality. Now we see the same with these rehab centers.

Looking at these pictures I see the same sort of physical rehab equipment I’ve used when I’ve needed to go through this ( a dislocated shoulder here, a broken hand there). Some of it is quite simple, some of it is sophisticated and expensive.

Ah, this is one of my favorites – the electrical stimulation of muscles. It is supposed to speed up the healing of strained or damaged muscles and it feels REALLY nice. I had it done to me and I wished I could buy one for my home. I’m envious just looking at this woman.

Damn this looks nice with all those fancy tiles.

Alright, now I’m starting to wonder, is this a rehab center or is it a spa? A back massage while sitting in a hot tub with therapeutic water jets!! Damn, after a hard day blogging how I could use that!

I don’t know if everyone recalls it but during the presidential campaign Chavez ran a series of advertisements talking about his love for Venezuela and its people. He recounted how everything he had ever done in his life, from playing baseball to being a military cadet, he had done out of love for that activity and how all his endless hours of work trying to govern Venezuela he does out of love for his fellow countrymen.

The opposition of course derided that message and even some Chavistas may have regarded it as hokey. Not me. I always understood the message and never had any doubt that it is true. Chavez truly does love and care deeply about Venezuelans – particularly those who have been most neglected. That is why I decided to post these pictures. While they do indeed show a very nice rehabilitation center what to me they show more than anything else is Chavez’s love for his countrymen. These pictures are pictures of love in action.


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