Mon, Jun 11, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Polio, measles making comeback in Venezuela

NO MEDICAL SUPPLIES:The polio case was reported in an impoverished state and an ex-minister slammed the government for not notifying international bodies

AFP, CARACAS

Polio has been reported in Venezuela, where the disease had been eradicated decades ago, the Pan-American Health Organization said on Saturday, adding that the country also accounted for a majority of measles cases in the region.

A child who had been diagnosed with polio had no history of vaccination, and lives in the under-immunized and extremely impoverished Delta Amacuro State, the organization said in a report.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling childhood disease caused by the poliovirus, and preventable through immunization.

Former Venezuelan minister of health Felix Oletta, who is also a doctor, told reporters that the last case of acute poliomyelitis in Venezuela was reported in 1989.

“The virus especially affects people in conditions of malnutrition and unvaccinated [people], as [in] this case,” he added.

Oletta slammed health authorities in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government for taking more than a month to notify the organization that it had identified the virus.

International health regulations require it to do so within 24 hours.

Venezuela, devastated by economic and political crises, also accounted for 85 percent of measles cases reported across Latin America and the Caribbean over the past year, the organization said.

“There were 11 countries that reported 1,685 confirmed measles cases across the region,” of which 1,427 were in Venezuela, where 35 people have died of measles since the middle of last year, the report said.

The disease is on the rise in the South American nation led by leftist Maduro. The trend has continued this year, when cases have been reported in 17 out of 23 states and in the capital, Caracas.

In neighboring countries, where Venezuelans have migrated due to grim economic conditions, many of the reported cases have been among Venezuelan immigrants, the report said.

Venezuela has said it does not have 85 percent of the basic medical supplies it needs, including vaccines.

Maduro’s government blames US sanctions for the woes.

The government on April 6 launched a new vaccine campaign against 14 diseases, including measles and tuberculosis.

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