No supplies, no equipment, no justice. Unheeded by the Health Ministry and the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS), the Venezuelan Doctors Federation (FMV) appeared on September 5, 2002, before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court to request the High Court to intervene in face of the “omission” by such entities as reflected in “the insufficient provision of supplies, medical equipment and maintenance of hospital infrastructure nationwide.”
Twenty months after that petition, the Supreme Court responded to the FMV stating that it could not do anything to solve this problem. “The amounts of the budgets, their distribution and allocation of the necessary amounts so healthcare centres are staffed, equipped, and funded to enable an efficient provision of services, is a purely political activity, (…), and therefore an essentially abstract and constitutive activity, and thus, impossible to be subject to constitutional protection, which is intended, as it is known, for the restoration of violated (concrete) legal situations,” said the Constitutional Court in a presentation by Justice Antonio Garcia Garcia.
In that same ruling, García García states: “Now, the fact that policies are in principle exempt from judicial control does not mean that they are beyond control, namely political control, which is also established in the Constitution. The entities exercising Public Power work under their own responsibility, which can be questioned at the political level, which means they are susceptible to disallowance on the exercise of governance, but this process of delegitimisation cannot be qualified by the Judiciary”. That is, citizens’ votes are the only thing that could revive Venezuelan public health.
The Constitutional Court of the TSJ ordered the Ombudsman to “hold meetings with the Ministry of Health, the IVSS, state and municipal bodies (including the Metropolitan District) to which this service has been decentralised, in order to define the administrative and budgetary strategy and to improve the conditions in the system.”
A decade later, the FMV reported that 95 percent of hospitals had only 2 percent of the supplies needed to serve the population in 2014, and warned that the national healthcare system continues to have an insufficient budget.
The medical community marched to the TSJ, Constitution in hand, which in Article 83 states that “health is a fundamental social right and obligation of the State, which shall guarantee it as part of the right to life.” However, the judges did not abide by the constitution, and the public health system remains in state of emergency.
“[They request] the transfer of economic resources to hospitals, and the immediate assignment, execution and delivery of the budget for the purchase of medical supplies, equipment and instruments to hospitals and clinics throughout the country. (…)in the opinion of the Court, (…) the request is for the national administration, (…) to comply with the Rule of Law. In this regard, it should be noted that the amount of the budget, its distribution and allocation of the necessary amounts so healthcare centres are staffed, equipped, and funded to enable an efficient provision of services, is a purely political activity (…), and therefore an essentially abstract and constitutive activity, and thus, impossible to be subject to constitutional protection (…).