Former leprosy patient at Curupaiti Hosptial
A former leprosy patient with a worker at Curupaiti HosptialGetty

Patients in a hospital just five miles from Brazil's Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro are living without medical assistance due to country's budget cuts. Ailing patients living in the former leper colony told reporters for a British tabloid that no doctors or nurses had worked in the hospital for six years.

Reporters for the Sunday Mirror found rats roaming freely and rusting, dangerously wired showers in the hospitals. Prostitutes were reportedly going from door to door offering their services for around £5 and there was no security. The journalists' discoveries were published on 22 May,

Brazil has spent £10bn on preparing for the Olympic Games that are set to take place this summer. This year alone, the health budget was slashed by £500m and hospital spending in Rio de Janeiro state was cut by 30%.

Curupaiti is a former leper colony and many of its patients have now been left to fend for themselves inside its rotting walls. One said that they lock themselves in their rooms for fear of robbery.

Investigators described the painful, infected sores that many patients had. The hospital has little in the way of bandages or painkillers and is hit by regular power cuts and water outages. According to the Mirror, the amount spent on the Olympics could have built 26 new hospitals.

One 75-year-old patient told the investigators that they felt they had been deserted: "We feel completely abandoned. We are afraid. Here used to be a good hospital, there were doctors when you needed them. Now there is no one, we have to fend for ourselves."

Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro
Aerial view of the Olympic Park in Rio de JaneiroReuters

"I fear the day I have an ­emergency, because I know I will shout for help and no one will come, and I will die here. The government says they can't afford to give us the care we deserve, but they managed to find every cent for building the Olympic stadiums and no doubt even more to fill their own pockets."

Brazil's suitability as Olympic host has been questioned. At the end of last year, tests found that the water around Rio de Janeiro was contaminated with raw sewage and viruses that could cause disease in swimmers.