The Simón Bolívar Foundation, the private non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation of CITGO Petroleum Corporation, presented the results of a report – recently published – on the health crisis in Venezuela, with the aim of helping to guide charitable humanitarian health programs and provide up-to-date, objective and reliable data. The report was prepared by researchers at the Center for Humanitarian Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Understanding the situation of the healthcare sector in Venezuela is complicated due to the difficulty in obtaining accurate health information, laboratory data, and the country’s medical testing capacity. In fact, no official data has been published since 2017. This report, presented by the Simón Bolívar Foundation, indicates that the political and economic crisis of the last five years has seriously paralyzed the Venezuelan health system and that the situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reviewing the information and data available from 2019 to the end of 2021, the report reveals the following about the current health situation in Venezuela:
Life expectancy in Venezuela has decreased, and infant and maternal mortality rates have increased in contrast to regional trends.
Vaccination coverage in Venezuela is well below the regional average, with a resurgence of many vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly measles.
Venezuela’s healthcare infrastructure is crumbling, with more than 70% of public hospitals without regular access to water or electricity, with inadequate distribution of essential medicines and supplies, and with the loss of many healthcare workers.
More than 90% of the population lives in poverty and 32% of children are chronically malnourished.
There are an estimated 14.3 million people in Venezuela in need of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 called for $763 million in aid, but as of August 2020 only $130 million in assistance had been provided.
The report includes as key recommendations that investments in health should prioritize:
⁃ To invest in new pools of healthcare workers who require less extensive training and who can deliver essential services at the community and primary care level;
⁃ Adequate supplies and medications for essential primary and preventive care;
⁃ Focus on raising levels of coverage and capacity to provide services for maternal and child healthcare, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, noncommunicable diseases, and mental health; and
⁃ Address widespread gaps in health access and invest in primary care at the community and outpatient levels.
This report was presented as part of a series of webinars, sponsored by the Simón Bolívar Foundation and organized by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, called “Lunchtime Conversations: A Learning Opportunity for Funders,” organized with the objective of raising awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
The report demonstrates that we can help mitigate the current crisis in Venezuela through the coordination of collective efforts. Soon, the Foundation will announce a public call for proposals for comprehensive care for maternal, neonatal and child health within its Medium/Large Humanitarian Care Grants Program.
Please visit simonbolivarfoundation.org for more information on the application process and deadlines for consideration and approval of proposals.