Venezuela faces a "devastating" health crisis [Internacional] – 11/16/2018

Caracas.- Venezuela faces a "devastating" health crisis due to the collapse of the public health system, said Human Rights Watch (HRW), who warned that this situation is worsening with the spread of infectious diseases and complications.

"The combination of an unsuccessful health system and a widespread food shortage has led to a humanitarian disaster that will only get worse unless it is resolved urgently," said Shannon Doocy, a professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Several NGO researchers, along with experts from the Center for Humanitarian Health at the University, traveled to Venezuela's border with Colombia and Brazil to assess the extent of the crisis and to obtain the testimony of the people who fled the country.

The findings focused on drastic recovery in cases of malaria and tuberculosis, outbreaks of diseases such as measles and diphtheria and the lack of antiretroviral therapy in people with HIV.

A deteriorating factor is an increase in malnutrition that increases the spread of infectious diseases and complications, HRW said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria cases increased from 36,000 in 2009 to more than 406,000 in 2017; while diagnosis of tuberculosis increased from six thousand in 2014 to seven thousand 800 in 2016, when the incidence rate was 32.4 per 100,000 people, the highest in the country in 40 years.

Insufficient reserve for drugs and vaccines has been affected by treatments such as HIV, as 87% of over 79,000 people registered as carriers of the virus are not subject to antiretroviral therapy.

Lack of vaccines also caused the return of two diseases that were considered extinct: diphtheria and measles whose recent records were known until 2015.

Human Rights Watch reports a high level of malnutrition as the main factor that has led to the worsening of most diseases.

In its report, an international human rights organization criticized the reaction of President Nicolas Maduro's government to deny this situation and was not "urgent".

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