The Venezuelan humanitarian crisis has reached its breaking point. Venezuelan citizens have been going through turmoil since 2012, two years after the economic crisis began in 2010. The crisis, however, took a drastic turn for the worse in 2017, and now the situation is even more dismal than researchers expected. This crisis severely affects the health conditions Venezuelans live in today. According to a report, patients who go to hospitals must bring not only their own food, but also medical supplies like syringes, scalpels and their own soap and water. Furthermore, diseases that are preventable with vaccines are making a major comeback throughout the country. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has reported outbreaks of preventable diseases, such as diphtheria, measles and malaria, as well as an increase in tuberculosis in Venezuela.
With the inflation rate at nearly 3,000 percent at the end of 2017, the people in Venezuela can not sufficiently provide for themselves anymore. An estimated 3.4 million people have fled the country in recent years to escape hunger, diseases and in severe cases death. Venezuela’s neighbors, particularly Colombia and Brazil, have seen an enormous increase in Venezuelans seeking medical care. However, despite the severity of the health crisis, the government continues to consider its healthcare system adequate. President Nicolás Maduro continues to deny the fact that his people are suffering. Humanitarian aid has been slow to reach Venezuela because Maduro blames the shortages of necessities on U.S. sanctions and refuses to allow anything but a small amount of aid to enter the country. One of the groups that Maduro allowed to enter is the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. They provided medical supplies for about 650,000 people. This aid, however, is only a fraction of the aid that is actually needed in Venezuela. Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have been the only ones to emphasize Venezuela’s misery. Both non-governmental organizations need more help in providing aid to this grief-stricken country.
Human Rights Watch group has been monitoring the crisis in Venezuela for some time now and is trying to get international organizations to recognize the severity of the crisis. They have partnered with the Center for Humanitarian Health and the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to publish one of the first and most recent reports on the crisis. Human Rights Watch has found that the health system is in utter collapse with increased levels of maternal and infant mortality, the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and diphtheria, and increases in numbers of infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis (TB). Human Rights Watch believes that acknowledging the problem and asking for help are crucial first steps. The Human Rights Watch Group thinks that more funding is essential to the success of any large-scale humanitarian assistance plan in Venezuela.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) issued an Emergency Appeal, MDRVE004 Venezuela: Health Emergency, for 50 million Swiss francs to aid 650,000 people and deployed a Head of Emergency Operations in April 2019. The IFRC sees that Venezuela is in a complex situation where access to basic services are denied, especially health services (promotion and prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases, diagnosis and treatment) to its citizens. The IFRC states that it is imperative that healthcare is provided for the population. After the Health Emergency Appeal was launched, response mechanisms were activated to significantly expand access to health care, clean water, sanitation and hygiene for the most affected population. However, the IFRC knows that the inflation in Venezuela has worsened in 2019 and both local currency and foreign currencies are losing purchasing power. The IFRC has a detailed plan on how to help, but it does not have enough resources. So, it has started with citizens who are the most vulnerable, but there are many more people who need help.
These organizations have been working towards a better future for Venezuela, but they won’t be able to get very far without more funding. Both of the organizations have compelling data that shows the detrimental conditions Venezuelans are living in during this crisis. These organizations have pulled together all the resources they have to battle the crisis, but it is just not enough. To save Venezuelans, the US needs to help fund the Human Rights Watch Group and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent so that they can implement their solutions to effectively aid the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The time is now to act.