Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks during a meeting with doctors and ministers in Caracas, Venezuela March 15, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday he has asked the United Nations to help the South American nation alleviate medicine shortages, which have become increasingly severe as the oil-producing nation’s economic crisis accelerates.

Triple digit inflation and a decaying socialist economic model have left medications ranging from simple anti-inflammatory drugs to chemotherapy medication out of reach for most Venezuelans.

Maduro did not specify the type of aid he requested, although he stressed that the U.N. has knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry.

“I have asked them for support to continue making permanent progress in the regularization of medicines for hospitals,” he said.

Maduro earlier on Friday met with Jessica Faieta, Assistant Administrator and Director of the U.N. Development Program, according to state television.

The Venezuelan Pharmaceuticals Federation estimates some 85 percent of drugs are unavailable to the country’s citizens.

Maduro often blames the deteriorating economy and widespread shortages of goods on an “economic war” led by opposition politicians with the help of the United States.

Critics say the problems are the result of dysfunctional price and currency controls that have decimated private industry.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago, Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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