Malaria is back with a vengeance

Illegal mining is helping Sifontes Municipality (Bolivar State) to become “ground zero” for malaria.

Since we reported about it back in June, the return of malaria (a disease that Venezuela had erradicated) has now reached a historical high.

The latest official numbers from the Health Ministry show 56,291 cases of malaria have reported so far in 2013, a number unseen in the last 70 years. An NGO has hinted that the final number for this year could end north of 70,000.

Almost all cases are concentrated in Sifontes Municipality, deep in Bolívar State. A recent report from El Nacional’s Maolis Castro offered some alarming data about how bad the situation is down there: out of Sifontes’s 40,070 inhabitants, 35,087 have had malaria – 63% of the national total.

One aspect triggering the surge of malaria is the presence of illegal mining and the constant movement of diggers who come and go from there, which makes the monitoring and control of the disease very difficult. Eight out of ten cases in the municipality are diagnosed in the mines.

With almost no presence of police, the mining areas have more bars than schools, and garbage is piled up next to flatscreen TV sets. The malaria outbreak is just the icing on the cake …

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  1. There is a real danger that acute vector borne diseases like these may become more widespread in Venezuela. I studied the distribution of Dengue in Caracas way back in 1994 (see link below) and demographic and environmental factors are crucial, just as your article explains. It’s almost miraculous actually that incidence isn’t greater, probably more a testament of individual, rather than collegiate responsibility.!

  2. As this process of societal breakdown continues, Venezuela will increasingly be seen as not merely a danger to itself, but as a danger to its neighbors and to the whole world. When escaping political and economic refugees start piling up on the borders of Colombia and Brazil, bringing with them Malaria, Dengue, and so forth, we will start to hear discussions of intervention.

    • I think it will be more when those countries stop having a positive trade balance.
      It can’t get any bitchier with them. It can get worse with us.

      • “inadvertently”? You mean like get on the wrong plane, by accident? 🙂

        Seriously, what you will “eventually” see will be far worse, because you will see the human suffering caused by this colossal madness.

          • Meaning that if you EVER go back to Venezuela, it will be by mistake…?

            Wow! That is harsh. But, if you really feel that way, why bother to participate here?

          • Oh, I will, but I have no immediate plans for now.
            There are a couple of means in which one can participate in Venezuelan affairs
            from abroad that do not have to do with writing online (I wish da Revolution’s Harlot
            would read this so that she can’t sleep thinking about us expats)

            Going back to the topic: the times remind me of the stories my dad used to tell about the times when he was a child and the first Acción Democrática government went to the rural areas to fight dengue, Chagas and other tropical diseases. Chavismo has brought them back. I suppose for Chavistas the Trypanosoma cruzi embody the Spirit of the Savannah and only evil escuálidos are affected by them.

    • It is really hard to comment on Maduro’s endless stream of accusations. They are so absurd that even to refute them gives them more credibility than they deserve.

  3. During much of Venezuelas history the scourge of these diseases contributed to it remaining a backward failed country , whole tracks of the country could not be inhabited and colonized by productive people because these diseases kept them ill and fatigued all of the time . It was a great feat for Venezuela to get rid of these diseases and now the neglect of the regime has allowed them to come back . It lacks the bang of other regime crimes but its historically speaking one of the worse.

    • Just another step in the third-worldization of Venezuela.

      It would take years undo the damage of Chavez, if it ever happens.

  4. Cuba also has a big problem with Malaria, even though officially, it is eradicated. The only evidence I can cite for this is a conversation I had with a doctor in Cuba circa 1998. He even showed me (as proof) an official letter of reprimand he got for failing to diagnose a case of it.

  5. You know guys: Some GOOD news every once in awhile wouldn’t be so bad to post. Hell at this point even if its borderline sarcastic. I know its hard come by, but damn, even a little, anodyne, yet uplifting story wouldn’t hurt.
    How you guys find the moral to keep writing? jeez.
    This could be the whiskey talking…

  6. The sad thing is artesenal mining can be hugely dangerous. And it tends to be controlled by mafias. The malaria is probably the least of their concerns.


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