Sunday, December 05, 2004

Repartition of the MD from Barrio Adentro

It is amazing what one can do on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Reading El Universal I fell on a table detailing the financial requirements presented to the National Assembly in order to maintain Barrio Adentro, the controversial Cuban MD program to establish health care in poorer areas of the country.

[Before I go on, I must say that I am all in favor of creating a network of primary health care easily accessible. But my gripe with Barrio Adentro is 1) there is no accounting anywhere that is independently audited and so there is no way to figure whether that social program is really working (it is, in a way, as some electoral results can vouch for it) , 2) because I do not like the idea in these revolutionary times of having so many Cuban doctors whose qualifications are not made public, who are not accessible to the press and who might be there for other purposes than just practicing medicine and 3) the other health care has been quite neglected. This being said....]

The table published in El Universal (that does not appear in the web) details the number of MD per state for Barrio Adentro. These MD origin is not specified (but there are at least 80% from Cuba, last I heard something). And I suppose, and there I might be wrong, that the funds requested are to maintain existing programs as I have not heard any special announcement to the effect of new programs.

Strangely inspired by the numbers I was reading, I did the following exercise. I divided the numbers of MD per state by the electoral population of the state as reported from the CNE web page (not the actual population). Thus I wanted to look at the repartition of MD between pro Chavez and opposition states. I got the following table:

The yellow line is the national average, and the pro Chavez and opposition averages are indicated by color matched arrows. The averages are calculated, of course, by adding all doctors and all voters, not just the average per state! The national average does not include Amazonas, the least populated state for which the CNE does not give numbers.

I think that the result is striking! If these are indeed numbers reflecting the MD situation on August 15 then one must wonder why there were more MD per capita in opposition states than in pro Chavez states!!!!


One would be that indeed the MD Barrio Adentro were a cover for some other type of activities that I will let the reader speculate on. In fact, independent observers had reported that Carabobo, Miranda and Yaracuy were states where medical care could be considered ABOVE the national average, in particular Carabobo. And these three states were also the ones most desired by Chavez.

A study of some of the incongruousness sustain this. Delta Amacuro is arguably the most economically backward state and thus a relatively high number of MD is a given. But Caracas Downtown area has much less MD per capita than Miranda which includes a large portion of Caracas suburbs. Anzoategui and Monagas are the lowest opposition states, but they also have a significant oil industry structure that the government might have used in addition of Barrio Adentro as the newly hired oil workers could use other services than Barrio Adentro.

Why Tachira is a third of Carabobo beats me. The large presence of the Army as it is a border state and thus uses Plan Bolivar 2000 instead of Barrio Adentro?

All of this are only hypothesis, of course, and all might be perfectly wrong if the numbers presented are the plans to bring light to liberated states! But then why is Zulia so high?

Now, will any newspaper take over this investigation? Or will even a representative in charge of budget examination look at numbers that could lead to quite a lot of discoveries? I doubt it, in Venezuela it is much funnier to scream empty political consigns than do the actual numbers crunch. No wonder the opposition never knows what will hit it...

PS: I will even send them my Excel sheet if some investigative journalist wants to pick the challenge!

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