Children Dying of Extreme Malnutrition in Venezuela
PBP has been chronicling the heartbreaking collapse of Venezuela. We watched as socialist policies and corrupt leadership caused triple-digit inflation and widespread shortages of food and supplies that drove thousands to flee the country.
Venezuela is run by a despot. The country is having a fire sale of its most valuable asset: the world’s largest oil field. This is what socialism does to a country. Venezuela is rich in resources, but its citizens are starving.
Economic collapse in Venezuela has disproportionately affected children, who are now dying at an alarming rate.
In many countries, extreme malnutrition “can be caused when there is war, a drought, some sort of catastrophe or an earthquake. But in our country it is directly related to the shortages and inflation,” Dr. Ingrid Soto de Sanabria told reporters from The New York Times.
“Sometimes they die in your arms just from dehydration,” added Dr. Milagros Hernandez, who works in a children’s hospital in Barquisimento. “[In 2017] the increase in malnourished patients has been terrible. Children arrive with the same weight and height of a newborn.”
Doctors are pressured not to make any diagnosis that reflects poorly on the government. “In some public hospitals, the clinical diagnosis of malnutrition has been prohibited,” said Dr. Huniades Urbina Medina.
In many cases, hospitals lack the supplies needed to treat malnutrition. Baby formula is scarce, and doctors regularly give parents lists of items to search for while they attempt to save their child’s life.
The Venezuelan government has been careful to cover up the extent of the malnutrition crisis by enforcing a blackout on health statistics, reports the Times.
A 5-month investigation by the Times revealed:
• Between 2012 and 2015, the mortality rate for babies less than 4 weeks old increased from .02% to 2%.
• In the same time period, maternal mortality has increased nearly fivefold.
• Between 2015 and 2016, the number of children to die before their first birthday increased by 30%.
A report from Roman Catholic aid group Caritas estimates that up to 54% of children in working-class communities suffer from some form of malnutrition.
The suffering of children and families is expected to get worse in 2018, when inflation could surpass 2,300%.
For political reasons, the Venezuelan government continues to reject offers of international aid. “If they accept the help, they accept that there is a humanitarian crisis here, and officially recognize that their population is vulnerable, and just how much their policies failed them,” says Susana Raffallii, who works with Caritas in Venezuela.
Venezuela has turned to Russia for help in its hour of need, offering Moscow the only thing it has to give: oil.
As reported Sunday by Reuters, Venezuela has awarded licenses to Russian oil company Rosneft to operate two offshore gas fields.
Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin traveled to Venezuela to sign the deal, which gives Rosneft control over the Patao and Mejillones offshore gas fields for the next 30 years. Combined, the oil fields contain an estimated 180 billion cubic meters of gas. The agreement gives Rosneft the sole right to sell all of the fields’ production for export.
During his visit to Venezuela, Sechin also discussed Rosneft’s cooperation with Venezuelan state energy company PDVSA. In August, Rosneft granted PDVSA a $6 billion advance payment for oil supplies. Russia’s finance ministry agreed to a restructuring of Venezuela’s debt to Moscow in November, but the deal did not include PDVSA’s debt to Rosneft.