Malaria keeps on surging


dengue-y-malaria-960-630x378The return of malaria to Venezuela almost half century after the World Health Organization confirmed its full erradication is not new to this blog. In recent months the situation hasn’t improved much and it could even become a bigger public health problem as the disease is now approaching urban populations.

The Guardian’s Virginia Lopez (who, to be clear, is on the sane journalistic side rather the crazy editorial side of the paper) presents us the case of the small town of Quilombo (45 kms away from Caracas), where several cases of malaria have been recently diagnosed. Lack of proper sanitation in the area was considered as a possible trigger, but the efforts of Miranda State Health Department (thorugh fumigation and giving mosquito nets) have contained the situation.

However, the upcoming rain season could cause malaria to reappear. That’s not the only problem, according to Miranda Health Secretary Gustavo Villasmil, as politics are making any coordination between national and State governments impossible. He told The Guardian:

“There is an express order from the ministry of health to hold no meetings with health teams that might work in opposition-led states.”

There’s even discrepancies in the number of cases registered: Miranda State Government reported 32 cases while a Health Ministry source recognized only 17 .

In its World Malaria Report 2013 (published last December) the W.H.O. put Venezuela as one of the three countries in the world where malaria is growing (the other two were Algeria and our eastern neighbors Guyana). But if you go to the State news agency AVN, everything is under control. Funny that the same week that article went online the official Epidemiology Bulletin from the Health Ministry put some serious doubts on AVN’s headline.

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  1. The travel clinic I go to in Canada recommends a malaria prophylaxis for rural Barinas. One of the disturbing things I’ve noticed is the availability of more up to date and detailed information overseas on these public health issues than in Venezuela. Meanwhile I look forward to the day there is a pill for dengue, or the public health authorities get their crap together, and I can stop dressing like Andy Warhol.

  2. My father was part of the team that worked to eradicate Malaria of Venezuela. He just saw this article and got so pissed that his blood pressure went to 17-12. He is a very positive guy that sees the opportunity on every problem so he said “well, that means you will have plenty of work in the future once this situation pass. Venezuela will need to be re-constructed even from the most basic things”

  3. Thanks, Gustavo.
    From the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (my translation):
    “Health services in Caracas in the private (!) sector are to some extent still at European level, but due to the current economic plight (or misery) there can be shortages even here. The public sector is mostly structurally deficient with regards to staff, devices, logistics and in part hygienic resources, specially in rural areas.”

  4. The problem, as usual is that these people cannot do stuff systematically.
    No malaria? No need to spray more! Without understanding that if you stop spraying it will reappear.
    Same for electrical power generation: You need maintenance and generation of more energy. But no.

  5. In case anyone is wondering, “Argelia” is a typo for Algeria. It originates on the Spanish version of WHO’s Algeria page. I guess it was copied into the report, and then into El Universal‘s story.

  6. I am wondering if the source of the outbreak is not Cubans traveling infected to Venezuela. In spite of official reports that Malaria is fully eradicated from Cuba, it continues to be a serious problem there. How do I know this? A doctor I met there in ’98 told me so, and as proof, he showed me a reprimand letter he had gotten for failing to diagnose a case of it.


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