The research ─ conducted by Dr Adriana Tami of University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands, and University of Carabobo, Venezuela, and Dr Alberto Paniz-Mondolfi (IDB Biomedical Research Institute, Barquisimeto, Venezuela), and colleagues ─ was presented at the recent European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The context of the research is that the country’s health infrastructure is crumbling, which has led to an ongoing exodus to other countries and emigrating individuals with infectious diseases may be causing a spillover of diseases beyond Venezuala’s boundaries.
The report provides data taken over a 16-month period (June 2017-October 2018) during which time a total of 7,524 suspected measles cases were reported in Venezuela. An estimate of the national coverage rate for a second dose of measles ranks the country towards the bottom of vaccination coverage in the region. The report also looks at diphtheria statistics, finding that three million vulnerable Venezuelan children are exposed to the disease. When it comes to polio, it is estimated that vaccination rates are below 80 per cent and, according to the report authors, this disease will eventually return to Venezuala.
The researchers concluded that immediate action is necessary: "Action to halt the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases within Venezuela is a matter of urgency for the country and region. Global and regional health authorities should urge the Venezuelan Government to allow establishing a humanitarian channel to bring relief efforts and adequate supplies for mass vaccination. Failure of timely action may bring a tsunami of new cases, not only in Venezuela but also other countries in the Americas."