Malaria comes back to the future

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.