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Monday, 26 October, 2020

Public health in Venezuela was set back 60 years

A civil-society organization refuted the regime’s campaign of a “successful” public health performance in 2019, brandishing data such as high maternal mortality index and out of control bouts of measles and diphtheria.

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By Jesus Barreto.

“The year 2019 was a successful one in terms of health”. Maduro’s health minister, Carlos Alvarado, said Thursday, January 9th during an interview in state television network Venezolana de Television, much to the chagrin of “Medicos por la Salud,” a local NGO composed of doctors worried about the Venezuelan health crisis.

“Medicos por la Salud,” said the data concerning maternal, newborn and child mortality contradicts what the regime said. Critics say that not only profess was not made but that, as Venezuela traverses a nascent humanitarian crisis “health in Venezuela was set back 60 years” in 2019.

Both Maduro and Alvarado have come out repeatedly during the first week of 2020, addressing the issue of public health and disease prevention in 2019, quoting figures that critics say are hard to verify, at best.

The situation is not as healthy as Maduro and his officials want the world to believe, Jaime Lorenzo, executive director of another NGO, “Medicos Unidos de Venezuela”, says. “In 2019 the trend towards the deterioration of the whole health system continued. We have the worst figures in terms of health indicators in decades. Health in Venezuela was set back 60 years in terms of maternal, infant and newborn mortality, as well as in life expectancy and vaccination coverage”, Lorenzo said.

Mother of all failures

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In the case of the infant mortality index in Venezuela, the rate soared by 133% in the period 2016-2018. Lorenzo added that in several aspects such as prevention, transmission, contagion, and fatalities for diseases like malaria, dengue, and diphtheria, the information they have also contradict the regime’s assessment.

“Venezuela went from 16 reported malaria cases in 1994 to 617,379 reported malaria cases in 2018, according to the figures reported by the health ministry to the World Health Organization (WHO). Diphtheria reappeared in 2016 after 12 years of being under control and in 2018, after two years of an epidemic, there were 806 cases reported”, Lorenzo argued.

Perhaps a more telling sign of how deteriorated the public health system has become under Maduro, says Lorenzo, is a serious increase in maternal mortality during childbirth. While in 1994 there were 69.3 instances of maternal death for every 100,000 live births in Venezuela, that indicator tragically rose to 166.66 deaths for every 100,000 births in 2018.

Two days before Alvarado’s TV interview, Maduro also made a recap of the regime’s health performance in 2019. “The revolution has placed Venezuela in the best conditions to build a powerful public health system integrated to serve the people, free and of quality”, Maduro said.
Maduro made special emphasis on vaccination coverage, however, he did not provide precise data for immunization per disease, but he did say population was 95% vaccinated, the WHO-recommended percentage to guarantee optimum coverage that ensures the prevention of viruses such as measles.

Maduro also forgot to say that most of the vaccines distributed in 2019 had been donated by the United Nations.

Half-hearted

In a disease by disease breakdown, the claim by Maduro looks even more questionable. The President of the Venezuelan Society for Childcare and Pediatrics, Huniades Urbina, also questioned the 95% for vaccination. “WHO reported in 2018 that Venezuela only attained 55% in vaccination coverage. More than half of pharmaceutical laboratories withdrew from the country, more than eight years ago. How can you achieve a 95% coverage if the state has not acquired pneumococcus or rotavirus vaccines?” Urbina wonder.

UNICEF reported sending to Venezuela 3.8 million doses of the polio vaccine and 176,000 doses each for measles, mumps, and rubella. However, infancy represents 25% of the population of Venezuela, around 7 million children, meaning the number of doses received can only cover about half the vulnerable population. However, these figures are impossible to contrast, because the ministry has not published epidemiological data since 2015. Besides, the regime never formally presented a balance for the National Immunization Plan.

You can read the text completely in Spanish by this link: https://elpitazo.net/gran-caracas/ong-medicos-unidos-de-venezuela-desmiente-a-maduro-salud-retrocedio-60-anos/

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