Malaria comes back to the future

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    Long time ago, Venezuela was a pioneer in fighting and defeating malaria. But those days are long gone.
    Long time ago, Venezuela was a pioneer in fighting and defeating malaria. Those days are long gone.

    As the H1N1 outbreak which started last month is still affecting the country, a very different health concern is now among us.

    The Venezuelan Society of Infectology is denouncing that the number of malaria cases has reached a new high this year.

    Though this outbreak is mostly limited to the Southeast of Bolívar State (where illegal mining is an important factor), the number of cases registered in 2013 so far has already doubled the total of last year.

    Last year, a report of the World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of malaria cases in Venezuela went up in the last decade, which was the opposite of the trend on the region where the disease has drastically reduced. But months before, then Foreign Affairs Minister Nicolás Maduro hinted things were under control, as he was offering help to West African countries to erradicate malaria during a summit.

    Back in 1960, Venezuela was certified by the WHO as the third country to erradicate malaria (after the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.) and it was the first country to launch a nationwide campaign to eliminate it, thanks to the use of then-new DDT insecticide.

    Behind this effort was the work of recognized doctor Arnoldo Gabaldón (1909-1990), who later became Health Minister during Rómulo Betancourt’s presidency. Malaria (known here as paludismo) went from being one of the most deadliest diseases in the country to become just a rarity.

    It’s just the Nth sign of civilizational involution, alongside other infectious diseases that once were considered as history, malaria has come back to the future.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Travelers to Venezuela should not rely on official information from the Venezuelan government on the presence of diseases, like malaria. You’ll get more accurate and up to date information from an overseas travel clinic. As for Venezuelans, as always, they are screwed when it comes to reliable information on public health issues….

    2. Chagas is on the rise too.
      But, while they ignore all this, they talk about biological weapons, artificial earthquakes and cancer inoculation.

    3. Why did you not give credit to the Perez Jimenez administration who really was behind eradicating Malaria in Venezuela?
      Then thanks to the efforts of envirowhacko Rachel Carson, DDT was banned. About 30 Million people have died from the disease since. Yes, 30 Million, mostly in Africa, where now a passive futile battle against Malaria is fought with mosquito nets.
      The ban of the efficient DDT remains controversial to this day. Has it’s use done any damage in Venezuela to humans or the environment? I didn’t think so.

      • For the record, Mr. Gabaldón assumed the head of the then-new “Malariología Directorate” back in 1936 and the DDT program began in the 40’s, so the effort can be traced back to Lopez Contreras and Medina Angarita. All governments than followed (the Junta of October 1945, Gallegos’s brief tenure as president and the Military governments that came right after the October 1948 coup) continued the program.

        • Thanks for the history lesson. No doubt “others”deserve credit, but TOTAL ERRADICATION happened under Perez Jimenez, which is my point, confirmed by the WHO in 1960.

      • Mike, Carson was not a whacko. The persistence of DDT in the environment threatened several species. Malaria was largely eliminated in the USA and Europe long before the widespread use of DDT, and has not returned. Other significant factors include drainage of swamps where malaria-bearing mosquitoes bred and use of window screens. They do help, most infectious bites occur at night. Finally, it’s not entirely banned, it’s still used in several countries.

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