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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chaos in Venezuela Produces Havoc in Health Care

Venezuela is unwinding as a country and, as you might expect, this is causing havoc to the health care system. CNN reported yesterday that infant deaths and malaria cases have skyrocketed recently.
Confirmed malaria cases in 2016 stood at 240,000, a 76% increase over 2015. Maternal deaths rose 66% to 756. Last year, 11,466 infants died, a 30% increase, according to new records recently released by Venezuela's health ministry. It's the first health data released by the government in nearly two years.
The staggering increases illustrate how badly Venezuela lacks basic medicine, equipment and supplies to treat even the simplest of injuries.
It shouldn't be this way, of course, since Venezuela has the world's largest known oil reserves, but political chaos has clearly undermined basic activities of daily living. According to data from the Population Reference Bureau's World Population Data Sheet, per person income in Venezuela is almost exactly the same as in Mexico, although even before this latest news, life expectancy was 2 years lower for males and one year lower for females in Venezuela than in Mexico. Of course, income isn't always the key to high life expectancy. Cuba has the highest life expectancy in Latin America and it was to Cuba that former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez went for treatment before his death in 2013. On the other hand, they couldn't keep him alive either, and it is hard to guess whether Venezuela would be in better shape were Chavez still alive. We can only hope that it doesn't get worse, because these increases in deaths are for all intents and purposes the canaries in the coal mine confirming that things are collapsing. 

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