Venezuela’s invisible malaria problem

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Malaria is endemic to the tropics. Years ago, Venezuela had erradicated the disease, but the country went to hell in a handbasket, so guess what? Malaria came back.

And it came back with a vengeance, to the point that in 2013 Venezuela recorded 76,621 cases, the highest tally in the history of the country (well, at least since statistics began to be compiled).

What happened in 2014? My friend, health policy expert Marino González, shares it with us in his blog.

He says the government simply stopped reporting the regular epidemiological reports that it had been publishing for years. The suspension came in late 2014, when Venezuela was on track to surpass the horrendous 2013 figures.

But it doesn’t stop there. According to Marino, not only is the government refusing to publish data, but they are simply not talking about the issue. There is no mention in the 750-page report from the Health Ministry to the National Assembly discussing the fight against malaria. There is no official policy on malaria eradication – no fumigation, no public awareness campaign, nada pana. No figures, no policies … no problem!

The Venezuelan government falsely claimed that malaria has always been present in Venezuela, but that they were engaging in efforts to erradicate it. Funny enough, when you Google “Venezuela campaña paludismo,” all the items you get are government news reports dating from November 2014, right about the time when they stopped publishing figures.

Malaria is one of those illnesses that affect the poor much more than the rich, harming rural areas more than urban ones – something to keep in mind when confronted with a propagandist who claims the Revolution “loves the poor.”

These are the voters the MUD should be going for … remember Parapara guys? Anyone?

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that in between their sordid internal squabbles, the MUD finds it in their hearts to speak about the issues that voters really care about.

1 COMMENT

  1. I believe dengue and chikungunya infection rates, also high, were dealt with in the same way..

    As Marino Gonzalez says, information about outbreaks of contagious disease is not the private property of the government; they collect and administer the information, but only as trustees for the people of the country, who have a right to know.

      • They track inquiries about dengue and say that approximates the actual presence of dengue. Not necessarily. It more likely tracks public awareness of dengue, which depends on honest reporting by the government.

        • It doesn’t depend on honest reporting by the government in any shape or form, it depends on people feeling sick and using google to find out why they are feeling sick.

          As someone who lives in a dengue infested city, I can tell that it’s very accurate. To the extent that if I notice more Aedes aegypti trying to enter my home at night, I know that the graph will change soon.

  2. Here’s a serious proposal for the UN, the MUD, or anyone:

    – Anyone who has ever done business in terminally sick, utterly Corrupt countries like Venezuela knows that if you want to compete or bid on any business project, especially when the Putrid Governments are involved, someone is going to have to bribe someone, and heavily.

    Otherwise, you stand ZERO chance on winning the bid, if there is even one to start with.

    Say you want to bid on Chavismo’s Power Plants a few years ago. Forget about even considering it, unless you are prepared to dish out massive “mordidas”, under the table, to various decision makers involved. Many US or Int’l Honest companies don’t even waste time bidding, as for instance, Pro-Energy, in this example. So you have to compete against a bunch of corrupt enchufados, like Derwick Associates, if you even get the chance. In the end, of course, Derwick gets the deal, Milions and Millions are stolen, used plants sold as new, and everyone gets a piece of the humongous pie, including Pro-Energy, the original suppliers who did not want to dirty their hands too much.

    Such is the case with Anything, any business of project you want to accomplish in Kleptozuela.
    As everyone reading this already knows perfectly well.

    Therefore, if we really want to do something about Malaria epidemics, or critical, life-safing Medicine shortages, I seriously propose that someone, the ONU, some middle-man entity, offers the necessary bribes to the corrupt governments, Venezuela, Nigeria or Nicaragua..

    Seriously, that’s the only way they would do something about it:

    You guarantee them, through anonymous players, that their identities and bank accounts will be untraceable. They know how it’s done. Even the ONU must know how to do it. The only thing you ask in return is that they actually do Import the medicines discussed, and implement the program to stop Malaria, treat Cancer, etc.

    You even make the proposal: Here’s the Program, here are the possible costs, 1 Million, 100 Million,, and your Cut, completely invisible, to any bank, any person, 30%, or 15%, or 75%, whatever it takes. (Derwick or Chinese often get and give over 100%, Billionaire Tigres, but hey, we’re talking about Charitable Causes for the People, here, life-saving medicine).

    That’s the only way this completely corrupt Venezuelan government would actually DO anything about Malaria, or any other important project for the people. If there’s no such incentive, devious but effective, Forget About It.

    I seriously suggest this BRIBE method, behind closed doors, Internationally, but only for food, medicine and such dire causes; only after every other possible Honest avenue has been discarded. And temporarily, one-shot deals, until the Government changes, or you find some honest decision maker (good luck in the 3rd World, especially places like Haiti..and Vzla, worst, of the worst, of the worst in corruption)

    Wanna deal with Malaria in Kleptozuela this moth and Save Hundreds of Lives?

    That’s the only way. Seriously.

    • OK, I’ll organize the deal, receive the medicines, have a few widely Hegemon-publicized vaccinations/fumigations, sell the majority of the medicines South to my Alba buddies, have the Ven Health Ministry publish a few more lying statistics on lower incidence, and you only have to do your end–hiding the transfer to my testaferro’s hidden bank account (this from someone who has had AH1N1 and Chikungunya in the past 5 years, and is still suffering the effects of the first).

      • It has to include Objective International Supervision upon deployment.

        Like the next transparent elections, it can’t fail!!

  3. When people frantically deny that the mosquitoes are the disease carriers, then that ignorance contributes a lot to spread the plague.
    Also, yeah, the zealous denial from chaburrismo contributes too.

  4. The Malaria epidemic is not (or should not be) about ideology, but about competence. Combating and eradicating Malaria is done by identifying cases and killing the Anopheles Mosquito that carries it, through fumigation of the area in which the outbreak occurs. Eradicating a country of Malaria is a great accomplishment. When it exists in many places, it is like fighting a forest fire that is out of control. Enormous resources are needed to contain and finally eradicate the disease. Preventing its return is much simpler. Returning to my forest fire analogy, it is a matter of being vigilant for the first sign of smoke and reacting quickly to contain it.

    This government has now squandered the original investment made by Venezuela in eradicating Malaria, and, through irresponsibility and inaction, has allowed it to return. Their incompetence is not only endangering the lives of Venezuelans, but is putting at risk the efforts of all of Venezuela’s neighbors in the region, who have also expended large amounts of their capital and resources to control and eradicate Malaria in their countries.

    We can now add Malaria to the list of ills that Venezuela is exporting, which include, crime, drugs, corruption, and economic distortions. Venezuela has become a rouge nation that is dangerous not only to itself and its own citizens, but to the entire region.

  5. Nombras a la MUD dos veces y al igual que tu lo veo como una oportunidad de oro para que esa oposición se luzca.
    Pero resulta que cuando un médico presidente de la asociación sale a alertar sobre un punto, el Sebin les cae encima… y la MUD? MUDa.
    Ya son varios los casos de estos ciudadanos que tienen como opción huir del país o callarse para evitar represalias. De una cosa es seguro: con la oposición política no cuentan, están desamparados. Al igual que muchos.

    Por esas cosas de la vida, resulta que estuve ayudando hace un par de meses a poner en contacto con el network de ayuda humanitaria hacia Venezuela, a la persona que alertó (saco un vídeo y todo) sobre esta epidemia de Malaria.
    La reunión se iba a producir en Julio. No se el estatus de esa conversación, pero algo se esa haciendo. Y a a ser desde USA.

  6. Reuters released this report on a malaria vaccine being in the works for approval by the WHO.
    Unfortunately, if we can’t even get something as simple as condoms in our pharmacies, what chances do we have of ever seeing that in the health ministry’s hands?

    • Oh, it will get into the hands of the Health Ministry, and will be available for high officials and their families. Chances of the general public seeing it? Zilch.

  7. This case of the GOV’s creating state secrets out of what used to be open information has become standard operating procedure. Earlier this year, govt-owned CANTV didn’t explain a massive internet outage: Making our Internet even worse (Updated). Had this occurred with a private company, rest assured that the GOV would be screaming for explanations.

    Another example is OPSIS. During the dam level crisis at Guri in 2010, the OPSIS website, which contained a plethora of current and historical electrical power generation information, was freely available. After the GOV realized that such information could easily be used to refute the government propaganda on the Guri crisis, the OPSIS website got shut down.

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