The Latin American medtech markets have seen a lot of change and upheaval over the past number of months. Brazil in particular lost its BRIC powerhouse status, with medtech market growth projections dampening significantly in the country. Argentina?which defaulted last year?continues to see high inflation rates and a declining GDP, but the outlook for the country is becoming more optimistic with a fall election on the horizon.
The economic problems in Venezuela, however, are on a whole other level. Venezuela has been hit by its dependence on oil revenues, a poorly managed economy, and out-of control inflation rates. With inflation up, shortages of common goods have been rampant and crime has risen. American banks have no idea how much money the Venezuelan government actually has because the publication of economic data has become untimely and unreliable in the last few months.
The economic crisis has had a hard impact on the medical landscape in this country. Diseases that were once eradicated have again become a health issue. In the wake of shrinking budgets, doctors continue to leave the country in large numbers, leaving concerns about the country's future ability to accommodate demand for treatment. Medical school grads in particular find opportunities limited and seek careers in other countries. Device shortages and lack of funds also force physicians in Venezuela to choose procedures?often outdated ones?based on available resources rather than suitability; for instance, physicians are performing mastectomies in the absence of properly functioning radiation machines in many facilities. Both hospitals and pharmacies are experiencing shortages of basic medical supplies, and many patients are left to seek devices on the black market.
Although some recovery is anticipated, the medtech market in Venezuela will remain stunted for the foreseeable future.