Amid widespread food shortages, civil and political turmoil, and a crippling economy experiencing some 480 percent inflation, Venezuela has an entirely new and deadly problem — malaria.
Tens of thousands of people across Venezuela are working in illegal mines tucked away in the nation’s jungles to provide subsistence for themselves and their families. So many have lost their jobs, with an unemployment rate reaching 8 percent this year, that mines are the only option for employment. In addition to payment, workers are contracting malaria that has long been dormant in these mines. After picking up the virus in the mines, workers return to their homes in the cities where the disease is spreading at an alarming rate.
In 1961, Venezuela was commended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for being the first nation to eradicate malaria in heavily populated areas. While the disease was eradicated in major urban areas, it has quietly been living in the jungles.
WHO notes the worldwide measures to defeat malaria including: mosquito nets, medical supplies, and other advances aimed at lowering the contraction rate of the virus. These measures have helped lower malaria rates by 60 percent in places where the disease is prevalent, reports The New York Times.
The situation is now much more grim for the Latin American nation. Due to government decree, medical supply shortages and no electricity, doctors and nurses are being forced to work frantically to test patients for the disease, since the medicine needed to treat the virus is limited. Blood tests are conducted without gloves because of the medical shortages, and patients are being told to “come back tomorrow” knowing full well they could be dead by sunrise, the Times reports.
In a nation known for corruption and mistreatment under the former President Hugo Chávez, the current government has failed to conduct research or declare a state of medical emergency. Since January, 2016, the nation has experienced around 125,000 cases of the virus, affecting roughly half the country in terms of jurisdiction.
These mines festering with malaria are also run by gangs of thugs who are unabashedly unafraid to use force, reports the Times. Punishments evoke the medieval era in the eyes of some, with gang bosses amputating the limbs of victims for various “crimes.”
Venezuela is already under the crushing weight of rampant inflation, unemployment, food and medical shortages, the rise of gangs, and now, malaria can be added to the list. (RELATED: Socialism Leads To Widespread Food Shortages And 1,600 Percent Inflation In Venezuela)
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