Venezuelan authorities on Monday prevented a march by members of the medical sector most closely allied with the opposition, the leaders of which had intended to deliver to the government a list of requests to deal with what they describe as a crisis in the health care system.

Several dozen members of the national police thwarted the intention to head to the office of the vice president by the hundreds of doctors and supporters who had gathered on downtown Venezuela Square.

"We, the doctors, are in the struggle because our health is in crisis. The patients are suffering in view of the fact that we don't have supplies, the hospitals are chaotic, we don't have the means to treat our patients," internist Enrique Ramos told Efe.

"Greater security in the hospitals, so the patient doesn't have a long wait, a long stay in the hospital and ... because we don't have cotton, alcohol, we don't have syringes to work with in many hospitals," Ramos said.

The head of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, Douglas Leon, last November asked for the declaration of a state of emergency in the health care sector along with improvements in salaries and infrastructure.

"There's no way to work in the private hospitals, in the public hospitals, nothing to work with and we have to attend" to patients, anesthesiologist Jose Nicolas Gugliemelli said.

At the same time that the march was under way, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro received a group of medical professionals from the public sector and approved a series of disbursements for the construction of new hospitals.

Maduro said that there have been advances in medical care in the country thanks to various government programs including, he said, those that are being pursued in cooperation with Cuba.

Venezuela for almost the past month has been experiencing anti-government demonstrations that in some cases have turned violent and which have resulted in at least 21 deaths and hundreds of people injured.

The dead include both supporters and opponents of the leftist government.

Members of the security forces are facing charges in connection with some of the deaths. EFE