In Finland, newborn babies from all social backgrounds sleep in cardboard boxes, in keeping with a nearly 80-year-old tradition.
The Finnish government provides expectant mothers with a box that serves as a starter kit for their little one, containing almost all necessary items such as body suits, blankets, outdoor gear, etc. The box itself can be used as a bed since it contains a small mattress too.
In Venezuela, however, tradition or maternity care is not the reason why newborns are being kept in cardboard boxes.
Shocking images have emerged online purportedly showing a medical facility in the South American country keeping newborn babies inside cartons made out of corrugated fiberboard instead of bassinets or cribs.
The photos were reportedly shared by the opposition party in Venezuela. The makeshift cots, according to El Nacional, are yet another indicator of the nation’s historic economic crisis.
Since 2013, Venezuelans have suffered food shortages, an issue that deteriorated this year. For months, people have been standing in long queues for the most basic necessities such as flour and rice. In fact, food became so scarce that people started ransacking supermarkets.
At one point, thousands even poured into neighboring Colombia after a temporary opening of the border was announced to buy food and medicine. Venezuela closed the country's border to prevent a mass exodus, cutting off even that option from its desperate citizenry.
Venezuela's political opposition blames the crisis on President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez’s ineffective socialist economic policies.
Manuel Ferreira, director of human rights for the Venezuelan opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable, said the cardboard boxes were photographed in the government-run Domingo Guzman Lander hospital in Barcelona, in the north-eastern state of Anzoategui.
He tweeted the image with accompanying text that read: “With this legacy of the revolution, who dares to say #ChavezInternationalForce.”
The hospital administration later tweeted a picture showing babies in its nursery, sleeping in plastic hospital bassinets:
However, this wasn’t the first time Venezuela has come under scrutiny for poor healthcare. In May, The New York Times reported, citing figures from a government report, that infants were dying in hospitals due to lack of proper medical facilities.
“The rate of death among babies under a month old increased more than a hundredfold in public hospitals run by the Health Ministry, to just over 2 percent in 2015 from 0.02 percent in 2012,” the Times stated. “The rate of death among new mothers in those hospitals increased by almost five times in the same period.”
“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Merida.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Athit Perawongmetha