Every time malnutrition hits the headlines, we have the tendency to be stereotypical and think it is African news. However, Venezuela is now hit with a worrying rate of child malnutrition cases. The increase in child malnutrition rates is now at the range of a humanitarian crisis. Humanitarian crisis refers to an event, or several events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or wellbeing of a community. It all started from President Maduro’s inability to garner support from the Chavistas. It was then that anti- government protests and riots occurred in response to peoples dismay toward Maduro’s leadership.
The socialist state was then hit by an economic meltdown. There was a surge in inflation rates which caused the price of goods , which include basic necessities to rise significantly. With many people bulk purchasing, there was not enough supply to meet the demands of the people. With Venezuela possessing one of the world’s largest oil reserves, the economic meltdown has caused oil prices to fall dramatically. Imports have fallen significantly. This directly means that there is less foreign currency to buy goods from other countries. The economic meltdown has also led to a critical shortage of essential imports which includes vital medicines.
Due to the surge in prices, many have had to turn to alternatives sources of including consuming scrap of leftovers on the streets. The latest figures revealed a shocking 11.4 percent of children under five are suffering from either moderate or severe acute malnutrition. At 48 percent, the number of children under five who are at risk or suffering from lower risks malnutrition is very high. More than eight in ten households are now eating less than before and almost six in ten say that at least one family member is surviving without food on some days to allow others eat.
Besides the shortage of food, the other biggest risk to health is the lack of clean drinking water. Water supply has been an issue for some time and lack effective maintenance. Susana Rafalli, a humanitarian specialist, mentioned that the severe crisis in Venezuela requires national and international intervention in order for the crisis to be dealt with at the highest decision making levels If response to the crisis is not accelerated, more children will continue to fall seriously ill due to malnutrition.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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