Public health officials have long warned that Venezuela, with a crumbling health care system and nearly a decade of political unrest, has alarming vaccination rates.
The land is forbidden to buy vaccines through a regional system that offers affordable rates until the country repays a debt of $ 11 million, largely the result of a power struggle between the government and the opposition, supported by the United States. Specific data on vaccination rates have been elusive in Venezuela, where institutions are shrouded in secrecy, in corruption and bureaucracy.
Venezuela’s vaccination crisis is on the rise
But an Associated Press analysis of rare government data and estimates from public health agencies show that Venezuela’s vaccination crisis is on the rise, placing it among the worst countries in the world for vaccination of children against potential diseases lethal. Many babies lack many of the 10 recommended vaccines at 12 months of age to protect themselves from 14 diseases including polio, measles and tuberculosis.
Two of the vaccines one that prevents severe and life-threatening diarrhea and one that protects against respiratory viruses – they were almost never administered in the last couple of years. Government and opposition officials exchange guilt, but most agree: No.there are not enough vaccines for a population that desperately needs it in a country plagued by supply problems.
Vaccination experts they say the blame lies largely with the political unrest in Venezuela, where the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating access problems. “In conflict situations, you often see a number of different parts who use the delivery of healthcare as a way to create favor, ”said Katherine Bliss, director of Vaccination program and Health Systems Resilience at the Center for Strategic and Health based in Washington International Studies.
“This can also prove, among other thingsn lack of confidence in public authorities and lack of confidence in public programs, such as vaccination programs ”. Bliss stated that I total vaccination rates they have fallen globally during the pandemic stop and many nations are in total trouble. Not surprisingly, the more obvious the delays displayed outside city centers, said Bliss, who looked at Venezuela’s public health in connection with the crisis.
“Equal access to health is very challenging“, he said, noting that rural and indigenous peoples” only face greater challenges in terms of access to the same type. quality services that people could get in the most populous regions “. Data from the Venezuelan Ministry of Health, which divides the percentage of children who have been immunized under the program of national vaccination – delivered to the PA by a doctor on condition of anonymity, for fear of retaliation – shows that about 70% of children he had been given a measles vaccine but less than 30% had the second required standard dose.
The vaccines began arriving in early June
In the two southeastern states along the border with Brazil, the rate of the second dose is 15% for the smaller rural population. Globally, 84% of all children have received a first dose and 70% he received two, according to data from the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The Venezuelan government did not respond to several AP inquiries about the vaccine crisis, including the lack of vaccines in the country, future orders and vaccination needs, sources of vaccine doses and its debt o payments.
The vaccines started coming in early June through the Pan American Health Organization, the WHO arm in America, but it is unclear how they were purchased. For years, the Venezuelan government has traditionally bought most of its supply through the fund rotating for access to PAHO vaccines.
Despite Venezuela’s debt, the government and PAHO managed to get 4.4 million vaccinations for the vaccination campaign. PAHO paid tribute to shipments as a result of cooperation with the Venezuelan Health Agency, but did not answer AP’s questions about the exact source of payment. A PAHO official insisted on a conference June press that fact that the country still has a ban on buying vaccines.
Have Venezuelan children they are checked regularly, so parents often learn about clinics through social media or other places where theirs is families receive help, just like government food programs. A data window from 2016 showed diarrhea and respiratory infections responsible for significant deaths in children.
And the research from Johns Hopkins University stressed the importance of rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines in reducing the alarming overall infant mortality. Some parents they are aware of the risk of jumping expensive vaccines, but they say they have no choice. “We do not have the budget,” said stay-at-home mother Yuberlim Salazar at the vaccination clinic. “It is not fair to save money to give her the vaccine and not feed my daughter. I prefer to feed my daughter ”.