Measles in Venezuela under control, thanks to international aid

Child being given shot in arm (PAHO/WHO/Sabina Rodriguez)
A child receives the measles vaccination during one of PAHO’s door-to-door vaccination clinics in Caracas, Venezuela. (PAHO/WHO/Sabina Rodriguez)

International aid efforts to bring vaccines and medicine to Venezuela have brought the country’s measles outbreak under control, a new report says.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that the number of measles cases in 2019 was down 91 percent from the previous year, reduced to 548 cases from nearly 5,800.

Once eradicated in Venezuela, measles came back with force in 2017. That year, there were 727 confirmed cases and two deaths from measles. The following year, there were 5,779 new cases and 75 deaths. More than half of these cases were reported in children under the age of 5, according to PAHO, a specialized international health agency.

Pair of hands holding syringe sticking into vial (PAHO/WHO/Sabina Rodriguez)
Door-to-door measles vaccination campaigns targeted communities in Caracas, Venezuela, starting in 2018. (PAHO/WHO/Sabina Rodriguez)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contributed nearly $3.4 million to PAHO, including funds to vaccinate 9 million Venezuelan children between the ages of 6 and 15 against the deadly disease since 2018. This alone “saved the lives of people affected by the ongoing, regime-driven political and economic crisis in the country,” USAID Administrator Mark Green said in a statement.

The PAHO says that the key to continuing the reduction in measles is to keep the vaccination rate above 95 percent in Venezuela. International aid efforts will continue to provide lifesaving preventive measures as long as the illegitimate Maduro dictatorship remains in power and continues to limit medical treatments across the nation.

“The Government and people of the United States remain committed to the people of Venezuela, and will continue to support them during this man-made crisis,” Green said. “We ask other nations to do the same.”


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