WAR AND disaster often capture the headlines, but another kind of catastrophe, the invisible spread of disease, is as lethal and heartbreaking. As chaos envelops Venezuela, bringing hunger, food shortages, hyperinflation and flight by millions of people, disease is following.
Sicknesses that were once eliminated in Venezuela and are easily prevented by vaccine are breaking out routinely. According to the Pan American Health Organization, from June 2017 until this September, measles cases skyrocketed, with 5,500 confirmed cases and 64 deaths, compared with one case recorded in Venezuela between 2008 and 2015. More than 1,200 diptheria cases have been confirmed from July 2016 to this September, leading to more than 200 deaths; there wasn’t a single case of diptheria from 2006 to 2015. Suspected and confirmed malaria cases in Venezuela shot from nearly 36,000 in 2009 to more than 406,000 last year because of a fall-off in mosquito-control activities and shortages in medication. The 2017 incidence rate of tuberculosis was the highest seen in Venezuela in 40 years. And an estimated 87 percent of HIV patients registered to receive retrovirals are not getting them.