The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the official name of the South American country, Venezuela. The nation is vast, bordering the Caribbean Ocean, as well as the nations of Brazil, Colombia, and Guyana. Its terrain ranges from the relaxing sandy beaches along the coast, to the treacherous ridges of the Andes Mountains. It even boasts wonders like to the Amazon Jungle and Guiana Highlands.
You wouldn’t know that Venezuela is in such turmoil from looking at its topography and pictures of the glorious scenery.
But, Venezuela’s government is in shambles. The economy has also dwindled to near non-existence. Citizens are now fleeing to neighboring countries in epic numbers, to the tune of over 5,500 people each day.
The crisis in Venezuela affects the state in every way possible. That also includes disease prevention, which is suffering to a dangerous extent.
Did you know that Venezuela was the first country to eradicate Malaria in 1961?
For the past 20 years, Venezuela was the epitome of health safety. Officials used strict regulations to maintain those health standards. But the instability of the Venezuelan government has changed that safety. Scientists and researchers fear that infectious diseases, like the Zika virus, Malaria, and dengue fever, could spread across Venezuela.
Worse, those diseases could also reach across the northern region of South America.
Because of the ongoing crisis, the Venezuelan government has reduced its efforts in this area. They have stopped the surveillance and control of these deadly diseases. The government also isn’t reporting all the confirmed cases.
A recently published article in The Lancet explored these dangerous developments. Data from Venezuela shows a 359 percent increase of malaria cases between 2010 and 2015. The situation has only become worse in the last few years.
The country confirmed almost 30,000 malaria cases in 2010. While nearly 30,000 malaria cases were reported in 2010. According to NBC News, “the number shot up to 136,402 cases in 2015, and 411,586 in 2017.”
Other mosquito-borne diseases also spiked across Venezuela during this time. Since 1990, dengue cases multiplied by four throughout the country. Zika cases have also skyrocketed, “as experts found 2,057 cases of Zika virus per 100,000 people.”
During that same period, quality healthcare also worsened. Medical supplies, including vaccines and basic medical treatments for these illnesses, are scarce.
All the sicknesses mentioned earlier are known as vector-borne diseases. This means that these, as well as others, spread to humans through blood-feeding insects. These diseases specifically are caused by mosquitoes, and the government has also reduced its pest control services. As a result, these pesky insects have significantly increased in numbers.
Even if locals take precautionary measures against these illnesses, the sheer number of mosquitoes puts them as great risk to contracting the disease.
Quite a few international organizations are attempting to help with Venezuela’s health crisis. Groups like the Organization of American States hope the country will receive the needed medical treatments during this time. And as Venezuelans emigrate to neighboring countries at such high numbers, disease spread become a higher risk. These disease will also become a burden for other South American countries.
To receive help though, healthcare professionals need to acknowledge the current emergency.
If you don’t admit there’s a problem, you’ll never get the help you so desperately need. The same appears to apply for Venezuela’s ongoing health crisis.
Are you traveling to Venezuela soon and looking to avoid the increased disease risk? Passport Health can help. Give us a call at or book an appointment online.
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is a freelance writer with a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgian Court University. She currently lives in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina.