CNA Staff, Feb 18, 2021 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- A Lenten campaign launched by Caritas Venezuela is raising money to help poor and vulnerable people in the country buy lifesaving medication.
On February 17, Cáritas Venezuela, the charitable organization of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, announced the start of the “2021 Sharing Campaign: Medicines to save lives.” The initiative is in its 41st year and seeks to “strengthen diocesan and parish medicine banks” to care for the health and lives of the most needy Venezuelans.
Cáritas noted that 9 out of 10 people in Venezuela are living in poverty, with limited access to basic services such as food, water, health care, and electricity.
For years, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval under the socialist administration of Nicolas Maduro, with severe shortages of food and medicine, high unemployment, power outages, and hyperinflation. Some 4.5 million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015.
The coronavirus has now compounded that crisis, and the poor and sick are suffering, Caritas said.
“The deterioration of hospitals, the exodus of medical personnel, the shortage of medicines and their high cost are materializing into a real Way of the Cross for the dispossessed classes,” the charitable organization said.
“We have seen how patients with severe or chronic pathologies are left to their own devices; patients requiring chemotherapy, antiretrovirals such as those affected by HIV, kidney patients with the need for dialysis, diabetics or hypertensive patients who can’t get their medications.”
Over more than four decades, the Sharing Campaign has established itself in Venezuela as an “expression of a poor Church for the poor, whose missionary outreach shows the merciful face of the Father to all his sons and daughters, especially to those most in need,” Caritas said.
Facing current needs, this year the bishops of Venezuela agreed that the Share Campaign should highlight the “importance of universal access to medicines to protect the right to health of all Venezuelans.”
Accordingly, the goal will be “to strengthen the various programs that the Church has, especially the parish medicine banks, to help the most underserved obtain the medicines they need to maintain or recover their health and even save their lives.”
In addition to providing medicine, the initiative seeks to “engage in political advocacy” to ensure that the sick poor are prioritized and “to promote the structural changes that are urgent in Venezuela to overcome poverty, violence, exclusion and disease,” Caritas said.