2014 Has Brought Venezuela Over 150,000 Cases of Dengue, Malaria and Chikungunya: Epidemic Reportedly Worst in 25 Years
Venezuela is suffering one of the worst outbreaks of tropical diseases in decades, and there has been little response from public health authorities, two non-governmental groups reported Tuesday.
The Health Observatory and another group called We Defend the Epidemiology of Venezuelan Society reports that Venezuela had over 150,000 recorded cases of dengue, malaria and Chikungunya in 2014 alone.
Reports also include a record of 1.2 million fever episodes without a precise diagnosis.
Health Minister Jose Felix Oletta said the epidemic is one of the worst in 25 years.
"And we're still in the expansion phase, this problem will continue," he told AFP.
Health organizations suggest that the government may be undercounting the number of infected people.
"We have an inefficient health system that is not informed and tackles the problems late. They knew for 20 weeks that the Chikungunya virus was in Venezuela before the government began to require notification of cases," Oletta said.
Venezuela's health sector has been plagued with a shortage of drugs and medical equipment. The majority of supplies are imported, and its strict import controls require the private sector to petition the government for imports. Some requests have been delayed for up to two years, according to Yahoo! News.
Back in September, news broke that an unknown disease had killed eight people in the city of Maracay, Venezuela. Six of the eight original fatalities tested positive for Chikungunya when samples were analyzed in nongovernmental labs.
After arriving in the Caribbean late last year, Chikungunya has been sweeping the Americas.
Dengue, malaria and Chikungunya are diseases transmitted by mosquitoes that cause intense fever and joint pain. There is no vaccine for the diseases.