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[Editorial] The collapse of the Venezuelan health system

When Hugo Chavez became Venezuela’s new president in 1998, he promised to provide free health care to all and enshrined this right within Venezuela’s new constitution, rewritten in 1999. Progress was rapid and initial results were promising: according to the World Bank, life expectancy at birth rose from 71·8 to 74·1 years for both genders and infant mortality fell from 26·7 to 14·6 deaths per 1000 live births between 1998 and 2013, the period of Chavez’s rule. Success was recognised on the international stage and Venezuela achieved most of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals set for 2010.

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