Venezuela continues to add diseases, despite the silence of the Nicolás Maduro regime

Venezuela continues to add diseases, despite the silence of the Nicolás Maduro regime

Venezuela continues to add diseases, despite the silence of the Nicolás Maduro regime

The recent alert from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) about a yellow fever outbreak in Venezuela, it once again revealed the fragility of the country’s health system, which has been experiencing the reappearance of at least four infectious diseases for five years, despite the epidemiological silence of the Nicolás Maduro regime.

Yellow fever has joined the reemergence of diphtheria and malaria in 2016, and measles in 2017, the latter three, “contained” thanks to the help of international organizations, such as PAHO or the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), according to specialists in the area.

Diseases, which were not registered since the last century, have reappeared due to – specialists say – the lack of public policies appropriate in the health system.

However, they emphasize that the main reason is low epidemiological surveillance and decreased immunization against all vaccine-preventable diseases.

Venezuela continues to add diseases, despite the silence of the Nicolás Maduro regime

A group of people go to a health center looking to get vaccinated against yellow fever. Photo EFE

Alerts

Although there is no official data on vaccination coverage, specialists assure that there is a decrease in immunizations because, otherwise, diseases would not be re-emerging.

“Immunopreventable diseases emerge, reemerge, when vaccination coverage drops, when people stop vaccinating, and this is what has unfortunately happened in recent years in Venezuela, and this has deepened during the covid-19 pandemic, “pediatric infectious disease specialist María Graciela López explained to Efe.

Venezuela continues to add diseases, despite the silence of the Nicolás Maduro regime

The Pan American Health Organization warned of an outbreak of yellow fever in Venezuela. Photo EFE

To date, there are alerts for the infections mentioned above, and more recently from yellow fever, a disease that seems to be being attacked with vaccination, since the Government has begun immunization days in some points.

However, there are also the most common diseases, which have not been eradicated, such as rotavirus or pneumococcus and against them he is not being immunized, said López.

Immunizations against these last two diseases were formerly given to children in their first months of life in public health institutions, but “in recent years” this stopped being so.

“These vaccines have only been available in the private sector (pneumococcus and rotavirus), of course like everything in Venezuela, already dollarized, and then access is to less than 10% of the population“said López after recalling that economic conditions in the country are complicated.

López refers to the fact that the minimum wage in Venezuela is $ 2.40 per month and, according to the recent National Survey of Living Conditions (Encovi), 94.5% of the population lives in poverty.

The prices of vaccines in the private sector can vary, in the case of the one applied to prevent pneumococcus, between 80 and 150 dollars.

The silence

But the situation can go further, since also it is hard to get the hepatitis A vaccine for free, according to several inquiries made by Efe to public hospital workers.

Against this background, scientific societies, medical groups and NGOs specialized in health issues have expressed their concern and have called for the strengthening of epidemiological surveillance and information on pathologies is published.

Venezuela continues to add diseases, despite the silence of the Nicolás Maduro regime

In Venezuela there is no information on other diseases. Photo EFE

Venezuela does not publish epidemiology data since December 31, 2016.

“It is unfortunate that we do not know how many cases we have of different pathologies. The epidemiological bulletin says the cases of respiratory infections in general, of diarrheal infections (…) it even stipulates how much vaccination coverage is in general in the country, “the president of the Venezuelan Society of Infectology, Manuel Figuera, told Efe.

“What do we suspect might be happening? For example, whooping cough, which is an infection that is prevented with vaccines and that mainly causes very characteristic respiratory infections in infants, in children under one or two years of age, and if these cases are occurring, it implies that it is not being vaccinated well “, continuous.

To explain the impact of the lack of data on the epidemiological situation, Figuera said that doctors do not know the extent of influenza (a respiratory disease that has also become very common in recent years) in Venezuela.

The infectologist also criticized the lack of investment in the scientific sector, in the development of research, in universities, and that experts in epidemiology and infections have been allowed to go.

As he said, the Venezuelan health system is being affected by “the loss of professionalization, from the capacity for expertise, the expert knowledge, which must exist in these health areas, at a managerial level, at a higher level “.

EFE Agency

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