Venezuela: Worst malaria epidemic in 75 years

In 2015, Venezuela saw a record number of malaria cases with 136,402. Since reliable records have been kept in the country, this were the most reported in 75 years. However, the situation is much worse in the South American country during the first 33 weeks of 2016.
The Sociedad Venezolana de Salud Pública Red Defendamos la Epidemiología (or the Venezuelan Society Epidemiology and Public Health) reported recently that through August 20, 2016, Venezuela has seen 143,987 cases of malaria, representing an increase of 72.2% over the previous period in 2015 (83,623). “In total, 3,635 new indigenous cases were identified in epidemiological week No. 33 of 2016, from 14 to 20 August,” says the statement of the Venezuelan Society Epidemiology and Public Health.

Of the total of indigenous cases in the country, 9.48%, or 13,758 cases were in children under 10 years old.

Bolivar, the state in eastern Venezuela, bordering Brazil and Guyana, still accounts for the majority of cases 114,963 or nearly eight out of 10 cases. Of immediate concern are reports that indicate that the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, essential for the treatment of the most pathogenic strain of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, is running low in stock. In Bolivar, where the epidemic is most severe, drug stocks are depleted as are diagnostic supplies like Giemsa stain and immunological rapid tests.

Of the 106 countries globally with continuous malaria transmission, 102 reduced the annual incidence between 1990 and 2015 by 37 percent. Venezuela is one of four countries that has seen an increase in the incidence of malaria, in fact, the incidence increased by 356 percent in that South American country.

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