Malaria on the rise in Venezuela, official figures unknown
Official figures on malaria cases remain unknown in Venezuela. However, according to the Environmental Health Bulletin No 13 from March 29-April 4, issued by the local Ministry of Health, 31,696 cases of the disease were recorded in the first quarter.
"It is about a 66% (surge) from the same period in 2014. If such is the case, the events of malaria might exceed 120,000 this year," said Dr. José Félix Oletta, who is a member of NGO Defendamos la Epidemiología (Let's Defend Epidemiology) and former Health minister.
In 2014, 89,822 malaria cases were registered. The fact that such number exceeds 30,000 cases shows that, according to Oletta, there is no investment or monitoring to kill the Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit the disease.
Dr. Oletta pointed out that in its 2014 Report and Accounts, the Health Ministry reckoned the acquisition of only 3,000 mosquito nets, for use in 1,000 hammocks and 2,000 beds.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria cases considerably plummeted worldwide in 2014 – down 34% in Africa. However, the situation is different in Venezuela, where malaria cases increase every year.
Manuel Guzmán, an infectologist from the Medical Center of Caracas, agreed with Oletta that there is lack of control of the disease. He added that both illegal mining in southern Venezuela and lack of fumigation have resulted in malaria re-emergence in areas where it had been eradicated. ■