Responding to Venezuela’s Health Crisis
Venezuela’s political and economic crisis has dire humanitarian consequences, including a collapsing health system and severe medicine shortages. In response, the United States is pre-positioning medical supplies near the Venezuelan border in Colombia and providing emergency health assistance throughout the region for Venezuelans who have fled their country.
The Deepening Crisis
Since 2014, deteriorating economic and political conditions in Venezuela caused a catastrophic domino effect that has so far driven nearly 3.4 million people from this once prosperous country. As hyperinflation worsened and prices skyrocketed, infrastructure crumbled and basic services — including electricity, water, and sanitation — experienced major disruptions.
It was only a matter of time before Venezuela’s health system felt the impacts. By 2018, nearly 70 percent of Venezuelan hospitals reported regular power and water outages, and nearly 90 percent of hospitals reported medicine shortages.
“In Venezuela, you can’t find medicine. You can’t find food. It’s very difficult to eat. What you earn in a month is not enough to feed yourself for a month. If you eat, you don’t buy clothes for your children.”
-Fabiana, 35-year-old Venezuelan mother
To make matters worse, outbreaks of diseases that were once nearly eradicated — such as measles — have spread throughout Venezuela and across its borders. Between July 2017 and January 2018, approximately 6,400 confirmed measles cases were recorded in Venezuela. And a majority of the 17,000 confirmed measles cases recorded throughout the region in 2018 have been traced to outbreaks in Venezuela.
Pre-positioning Medicine and Medical Supplies
To help Venezuelans affected by medicine shortages, USAID began stockpiling critical relief supplies in Colombia, starting in February. These stockpiles include:
Providing health care to Venezuelans in the region
As the health crisis in Venezuela worsens, more people are arriving in neighboring countries in need of urgent medical attention. In response, USAID partners are also working to address rapidly growing health needs in the region by:
- Administering vaccinations in border areas in Colombia and Peru;
- Providing staff, equipment, and technical support for local healthcare providers;
- Operating rapid response health teams and healthcare clinics in host communities; and
- Conducting staff training to help build local capacity to prevent, detect, notify, and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases.
The United States remains committed to the people of Venezuela. Since Fiscal Year 2017, the U.S. Government has provided more than $195 million in humanitarian and development assistance throughout the region to support Venezuelans in need, as well as the communities that are hosting them.