Government builds genetics research center and special classrooms for Venezuela's disabled

By James Suggett

MERIDA — In an expansion of the Jose Gregorio Hernandez Mission, a national program of assistance for people with disabilities, the Venezuelan government inaugurated a new genetics research center on Wednesday, and announced the construction of nearly four hundred special public school classrooms with facilities designed to accommodate the disabled.

"With the inauguration of the National Center for Medical Genetics of Venezuela, we are writing a new page in the history of health in Venezuela," said President Hugo Chavez during the inauguration.

The center, which is located in Miranda state near the national capital Caracas, is equipped for research primarily in human medical conditions, genetic engineering, neuroscience, child neurological development, molecular biology, cognitive neuroscience, sensory and muscular disorders, radioactivity, hematological chemistry, and biochemistry, according to the Bolivarian News Agency.

Venezuelan specialists working in the center, with the assistance of Cuban genetics specialists, will study and help treat tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have genetically derived disabilities.

"Many of these studies are costly and some had to be done outside of the country. With this center, the Venezuelan people will benefit for free," Chavez said.

Also, 383 classrooms designed for disabled students are under construction and will be incorporated into the nation's public schools by the end of this year, Chavez announced on Wednesday. The classrooms will allow more than 3,800 children with disabilities to attend school, he said.

In Venezuela, there are 336,270 people with disabilities, of which 18,293 have not been able to attended school, according to a nation-wide survey of the disabled carried out last year by the Jose Gregorio Hernandez Mission, which is named after the popular Venezuelan saint known as the "People's Doctor" and was founded last year.

October 15, 2009 — Return to cover.