Venezuela Crisis Affects Health Care in Neighboring Countries

Measles in Brazil; HIV Treatment in Peru Overwhelmed

Venezuela’s political and economic crises destroyed the country’s health care system, and now neighboring countries are impacted, NPR reports.

In this February 2018 photo, a volunteer alphabetizes donated medicines in Caracas, Venezuela. The country’s escalating crises and medicine shortages are affecting neighboring countries.  (Source: Fidel Suarez/AP/npr.org)

One year after the World Health Organization declared the Americas the first region on the globe to eradicate measles, the disease came back in Venezuela, where the broken health care system affected by political economic turmoil could no longer continue vaccination campaigns. The outbreak had upwards of 6,500 cases and 76 deaths. Venezuela’s measles outbreak is now to over 10,000 measles cases in Brazil and 12 deaths, as well as cases in Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Malaria is making a comeback in the country too. Venezuela eradicated malaria in 1961, only to have it return in recent years as treatment drugs are no longer available. Cases continue to increase year after year.

The U.N.’s refugee agency estimates over 3 million Venezuelans have now left the country for neighboring Colombia, Brazil and other parts of South America, affecting those country’s resources. Peru’s HIV treatment program is feeling the strain of absorbing 720 patients fleeing Venezuela. When Chile recently gave its public health system doctor certification exam, almost half of the 5,000 applicants were physicians from Venezuela.

Listen to more on NPR here.

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