On Thursday, Human Rights Watch published a report showing the health crisis in Venezuela and claims that the Venezuelan government continues to deny the size of the problem.
The existing data indicate a complex outbreak of diseases such as measles and diphtheria, a drastic increase in the number of malaria and tuberculosis cases and an almost complete lack of antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV. An increasing rate of malnutrition is exacerbating this health crisis and contributes to Venezuelans being more susceptible to infectious diseases and more likely to face complications in the event of illness.
The Human Rights Watch team has traveled to Colombia and Brazil with medical and public health experts to assess the scale of the humanitarian crisis that Venusueli escapes.
"Venezuela has failed in the public health system and has endangered the lives of an immense number of Venezuelans," said Shannon Doocy, associate professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, who was part of a team traveling to Venezuela. between Colombia and Venezuela. "The combination of a declining healthcare system and a general food shortage has led to a humanitarian disaster that will worsen if it is not necessarily addressed."
The report states that the Venezuelan government in recent years has prevented the transmission of data on the epidemiological situation in the country. Although it reports some information to the Pan-American Health Organization, the Ministry of Health in 2015 suddenly interrupted the spread of weekly updates on relevant health indicators.
HRW pointed out that the then Minister of Health briefly continued to publish epidemiological bulletins in 2017, immediately declaring that the government had turned to doctors who publicly expressed concern about the crisis or who tried to disseminate information about it.
Read the detailed report below:
Currently, Venezuela has disease outbreaks that can be prevented with vaccines that have been removed from the country. These outbreaks indicate that there are serious deficiencies in covering vaccination. According to Pan American Health Organization:
Since June 2017, more than 7,300 measles cases have been reported in Venezuela, including 5,500 confirmed cases and 64 deaths by September 2018. There were no measles cases in Venezuela between 2008 and 2015, except for a single case in 2012. The outbreak spread to other countries in the region, and Brazil has more than 10,000 suspected cases of measles associated with the outbreak in Venezuela.
Between July 2016 and September 2018, more than 2,000 suspected cases of diphtheria were reported. More than 1,200 people were confirmed and more than 200 people died. On the other hand, no case has been reported in Venezuela between 2006 and 2015.
The number of alleged and confirmed cases of malaria in Venezuela has steadily increased over recent years – from almost 36,000 in 2009 to more than 406,000 in 2017, according to the World Health Organization. Currently, malaria is an epidemic that exists in more than nine Venezuelan countries, according to an official document prepared by the Pan American Health Organization, UNAIDS and the Ministry of Health of Venezuela. Health experts attributed this to reducing the activity of mosquito control, the lack of medicines for the treatment of illnesses and activities of illegal mining, which promote the reproduction of mosquitoes by creating standing water.
The number of reported cases of tuberculosis in Venezuela has increased from 6,000 in 2014 to 7,800 in 2016, while preliminary reports show that in 2017 there were more than 10,000 cases. Incidence rate of tuberculosis in 2017 (32.4 per 100,000) This was the largest in Venezuela in 40 years.
Venezuela is the only middle-income country in the world where many HIV patients are forced to stop treatment due to a wide array of antiretroviral drugs. 87% of more than 79,000 people living with HIV who are registered to receive antiretroviral treatment from the Venezuelan government do not receive this. The number of cases of HIV infection recently detected in Venezuela increased by 24% between 2010 and 2016, and in 2016, there were 6,500 new diagnoses. The actual number of new HIV infections is clearly greater, especially since many health centers are no longer able to carry out HIV tests.
Maternal and Child Mortality
The latest official statistics of the Venezuelan Ministry of Health show that maternal mortality increased by 65% in 2016, while infant mortality increased by 30% in just one year.
The health complications that patients in Venezuela suffer are severe food shortages and limited access to adequate nutrition. Many Venezuelans, among the dozens of those carried out by the Human Rights Watch and John Hopkins group, reported losing weight and eating once or twice a day in their country. For some, the food consisted only of yucca or sardines.
Although the Venezuelan government has not published national malnutrition data since 2007, the available information suggests that it will increase:
A representative national study carried out by three prestigious universities in Venezuela has shown that 80% of Venezuelan households are insecure with food, which means they do not have a safe food source and that people who were polled lost on average 11 kg in 2017.
The charity Cáritas Venezuela, which monitors food status and provides humanitarian assistance to children in a low-income community in Caracas and several countries, reported that moderate to severe acute malnutrition in children under five years of age increased from 10% in February 2017 to 17% in March 2018, which is an indicative rate of crisis in line with World Health Organization standards. In July 2018, Cáritas Venezuela reported that the average fell to 13.5%; however, the statistics were higher than the level of the crisis in Caracas (16.7%) and the Vargas State (almost 20%).
The Caritas survey conducted in 2018 showed that 48% of pregnant women in these low-income communities show moderate or severe acute malnutrition.
Hospitals in various places in the country report an increase in the incomes of children with moderate or severe acute malnutrition and the proportion of children admitted to hospitals with acute malnutrition is alarmingly high (from 18% to 40%), according to data provided by healthcare professionals Venezuela was forwarded to Human Rights Watch.
With information from Human Rights Watch
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