Press Release

IACHR Expands Precautionary Measures to Protect Child and Adolescent Patients in 13 Wards at José Manuel de los Ríos Hospital in Venezuela

August 21, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expanded today, through Resolution 43/19 (available in Spanish), precautionary measures to protect children and adolescents who are patients in 13 wards at José Manuel de los Ríos Hospital in Caracas, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable damage to their rights.

On February 21, 2018, through Resolution 8/2018 (available in Spanish), the IACHR had already granted precautionary measures in favor of child patients at the same hospital’s Nephrology ward. The Commission’s latest resolution extends to the following departments: (i) Cardiology, (ii) Hematology, (iii) Pulmonology, (iv) Medicine 2, (v) Medicine 3, (vi) Pathological Anatomy, (vii) Breastfeeding Center or Medical Service for Specialist Care and Training on Lactation, (viii) Outpatient Consultations and Triage, (ix) Pediatric Neurosurgery, (x) Comprehensive Pediatrics–Healthy Children, (xi) Nutrition, Growth and Development, (xii) Adolescent Medicine, and (xiii) Pediatric Neurology.

To make this decision, the Commission considered the health system’s ongoing crisis and its serious deterioration, caused by medication shortages, by the poor state of facilities, and by a lack of medical staff and supplies. The Commission deemed it extremely serious that the various wards lack the equipment and supplies they need to provide adequate, timely care to children and adolescents who are patients at the hospital, the only healthcare center in Venezuela that conducts complex pediatric interventions in several specialties. This hospital allegedly treats mainly children from outside the Venezuelan capital, who often have few resources.

The party who requested the expansion reported a series of deficiencies in these wards, including inadequate infrastructure, risks in terms of health and safety standards, and a lack of basic medical supplies and essential staff. Similarly, this party denounced that there was not enough adequate, good-quality food to suit the health condition of hospitalized children. Recent information submitted by the party who requested this expansion suggests that the situation at the hospital keeps getting worse, particularly following the blackouts that affected Venezuela this year.

Before making this decision, and given the seriousness of the allegations, the Commission requested information from the State of Venezuela, but received no response. This prevented the IACHR from having access to its observations about the request. In this context, the Commission considered that the State had failed to counter the risks put forward by the requesting party.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the Venezuelan State to adopt any measures necessary to protect the lives, health and personal integrity of children and adolescents who are patients in the 13 stated wards at José Manuel de los Ríos Hospital in Caracas. In particular, the IACHR concluded that the authorities need to provide medical care that takes into consideration—among other aspects—access to required medication and procedures in line with the recommendations of the relevant experts, nutritional requirements and other supplementary measures needed to satisfy patients’ best interests; adopt any measures necessary to ensure that child and adolescent patients in these 13 wards at José Manuel de los Ríos Hospital are held in adequate conditions to protect their health and safety, in line with the applicable international standards; coordinates any measures that need to be adopted with beneficiaries and their representatives; and reports on any actions taken to investigate the events that gave rise to the adoption of this resolution, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been expanded and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 209/19