Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA) y otros c. Gobernación del Distrito Federal s/ Acción de Protección. Expediente N° 3174. [ENG]

Protection action in favor of rights to life and to health of children due to lack of timely and adequate surgical treatment. The State's failure to guarantee sufficient budgetary allocations. Court order requiring full equipment of surgery room and creation of a dialogue table aimed at identifying and addressing current and future problems in hospital facilities.

Caracas City Juvenile Court - 2001
Type of Forum: 

Several non governmental organizations filed a protection action due to poor clinical and surgical treatment of children with congenital heart conditions treated at the J. M. de los Ríos Children's Hospital in Caracas. The action was based on the rights to life and to health enshrined in the Constitution, human rights treaties, and the Children and Adolescents Protection Law. Children had to wait for a long time to get surgery appointments. Some died while waiting and others who did get an appointment died for not being operated earlier. The petitioners alleged this was due to the Government's failure to guarantee sufficient budgetary allocations and basic staff to provide adequate and timely services. The Court accepted the action and ordered that the surgery room of the Heart Surgery Service be fully equipped. Furthermore, the Court ordered that a permanent dialogue table be created to gather city government officials and members of the hospital's Civil and Medical Association, under the supervision of the Ombudsman and the Defender of Minors, in order to identify, prevent and address present and future problems. Within the framework of this dialogue, an agreement was signed in which the city government committed itself, among other things, to guarantee a minimum of five to seven surgery appointments per week; the Ministry of Health promised to guarantee the purchase and maintenance of new equipment, full renovation of the Cardiology Service, and a disbursement to immediately cover the cost of 86 surgical interventions, as well as a permanent flow of money to finance surgical interventions and to eliminate the practice of charging patients for medical materials.

Keywords: Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA) y otros c. Gobernación del Distrito Federal s/ Acción de Protección. Expediente N° 3174, Life, Right

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

As regards surgical interventions, a regular flow of interventions has been kept with some disruptions, but the goal of 7 surgery appointments per week has not been reached. The guarantee of gratuity has been complied with so far. Maintenance of professional and technical equipment, as well as the cost of materials and drugs, is being provided for through the creation of a trust by the Ministry of Health and Social Development. As regards hospital facilities, 8 new elevators were installed; the cardiology surgery room was renovated; the cardiology service was remodeled and equipped; new blood circulation equipment was purchased and installed (the old one had been damaged for 8 years), which has made it possible to conduct simple heart condition surgery; and computers were purchased to update listings of diagnosed children waiting for treatment. (Source: Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos, Provea)

Groups involved in the case: 

Petitioners: Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA) (, Centros Comunitarios de Aprendizaje (Cecodap) ( and Acción Ciudadana contra el SIDA (ACCSI) (

Significance of the Case: 

Thanks to this case, a fruitful framework of negotiation with the State was created and used to address an extremely serious deficit in health services. Although not all agreements have been complied with, the case has made it possible to identify children with congenital heart disease as a vulnerable group requiring special measures by the State. A cardiological center is currently being built and may become a major national health facility specialized in congenital heart disease (cf. Provea's analysis).