What is healthcare in Venezuela like?

Facilities and Health Information

Medical care at private hospitals and clinics in Caracas and other major cities is generally good. Public, government-funded hospitals and clinics generally provide a lower level of care and basic supplies at public facilities may be in short supply or unavailable. Cash payment is usually required in advance of the provision of medical services at private facilities, although some facilities will accept credit cards. Patients who cannot provide advance payment may be referred to a public hospital for treatment. Private companies that require the patient to be a subscriber to the service or provide cash payment in advance generally provide the most effective ambulance services. Public ambulance service is unreliable. U.S. citizens should be aware that due to the currency restrictions in effect in Venezuela they might find it difficult to receive wire transfers from abroad, whether through a bank or Western Union. Such wire transfers cannot be used reliably as a source of emergency funds. U.S. citizens traveling to Venezuela may also find it difficult to obtain certain prescription drugs, particularly name brands, and should ensure that they have sufficient quantities of all medications for the duration of their stay.

Dengue fever is common in Venezuela, as it is in other tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Also called "breakbone fever" due to the muscle and bone pain it causes, dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral illness. There is no vaccine available for prevention, and there is no specific treatment available. However, it is usually a self-limited illness. Typical symptoms are fever, pain behind the eyes, and body aches. More serious cases involving bleeding and shock do occur; the fatality rate is one or two per ten thousand cases. Seek medical care if you believe you are seriously ill, as supportive care greatly reduces the risk of dying. Avoiding mosquito bites by using insect repellant or clothing to cover skin is the best prevention.

Chagas disease also occurs in Venezuela and in other parts of South America. Chagas is a parasitic disease carried by the triatomine insect or "kissing bug" or "chipo," as it is called in Venezuela. It is difficult to treat and can cause permanent heart damage and lead to death. The Pan American Health Organization estimates that 1,500 new cases of the illness are recorded in Venezuela each year and that 789 people die from the disease every year. It is uncommon for travelers to contract Chagas disease, but those staying in older adobe and thatch buildings or sleeping out in the open are at risk. In Venezuela, Chagas disease occurs mostly in the rural states of Trujillo, Lara, Portuguesa, and Barinas, but cases have been reported throughout the entire country and sporadic outbreaks occur in Caracas. It can be transmitted either through the bite of the "chipo" or through ingestion of food contaminated with the insect's feces. Outbreaks in Caracas have been traced to non-commercially prepared fruit juices. Symptoms vary and are often undetectable, but when symptoms occur they often include fever, fatigue, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. Those experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately. Avoiding insect bites by using insect repellant or clothing to cover skin is the best prevention.

Malaria is present throughout the states of Amazonas, Bolivar, and Delta Amacuro, and rural areas of certain municipalities within the states of Sucre and Monagas. Chemoprophylaxis with atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine is recommended in addition to insect precautions.

Leishmaniasis, another insect-borne parasitic disease, is present in some areas. Insect precautions are recommended.

Schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasite that penetrates intact skin, is present in some areas. Avoiding contact with fresh water in pools, streams, and lakes is recommended.

Drinking Water Source - % of rural population improved


Drinking Water Source - % of total population unimproved


Drinking Water Source - % of urban population improved

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 94.2% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 5.8% of population

Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


Sanitation Facility Access - % of total population unimproved


Sanitation Facility Access - % of urban population improved

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 95.8% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 4.2% of population

Sanitation Facility Access - % of rural population improved


Infectious Diseases - degree of risk

degree of risk: high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Food or Waterborne Disease (s)

bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A

Vectorborne Disease (s)

dengue fever and malaria

Disability Access In Venezuela


While in Venezuela, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Venezuela does not have any national standard for accessibility, thus most buildings lack accommodations for those with disabilities to enter, exit, or go between floors. Sidewalks are often unmaintained in Venezuela and could make travel by foot or wheelchair very difficult.


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