As Venezuela’s street crime rates rose throughout the Chávez presidency — and as they have continued to do so under President Maduro — its citizens began to fall prey to disease. The spread of common diseases in Venezuela such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid, malaria, rabies and yellow fever echo the rise of corruption in the nation. These diseases are the new normal alongside Venezuela’s crumbling economy.

Over the years, these diseases have waxed and waned in Venezuela. As new vaccinations came out, smaller outbreaks would occur.

Under the Chávez regime — February 2, 1999 to March 5, 2013 — Venezuela suffered a degrading economic collapse. As a result, President Maduro’s administration inherited the damage alongside the leadership.

Venezuela is home to one of the largest oil reserves in the world, and its primary source of export revenue is oil. During Chávez’s presidency, his goal was to use oil revenues to finance a social revolution that would benefit low-income families in Venezuela.

Nevertheless, the country’s corrupt leaders shifted the oil revenue into their personal coffers rather than investing in the poor. Economic chaos rules today’s Venezuela, and a product of this 10-year disarray is the world’s highest rate of inflation. Citizens must line up every morning to obtain such basic goods as rice, beans, cooking oil, toilet paper and toothpaste. These lines mark the streets of Caracas and are known to be the focus of international media.

As of late, the flow of imports has all but stopped. The government, struggling with corruption, cannot pay for imports due to their extreme debt. Venezuela imported everything but oil; now, the country lacks everyday products, including medicines and vaccinations. Consequently, common diseases in Venezuela have returned.

According to the New York Times, the prevalence of malaria in the country is at its highest level in 75 years. Venezuela’s child mortality rate is increasing, presenting a physical manifestation of the nation’s lack of resources.

Diseases once thought to be eliminated (and entirely preventable), such as malaria and diphtheria, are reappearing at alarming rates. These rises in prevalence particularly threaten the health of mothers and newborns during delivery and post-natal care.

There are individuals willing to make a difference in the fight against common diseases in Venezuela. Humanitarian activist Lilian Tintori, for example, has dedicated her life to a revolt against the Chávez regime. She wants to establish a humanitarian channel between the world’s nations and Venezuela to help deliver food, medicine and other necessary products.

Unfortunately, President Nicolas Maduro refuses to address the issue of scarcity and the preventable tropical diseases making a comeback in Venezuela. More emphasis needs to be placed on the government’s assistance in reducing the harm done by the most common diseases in Venezuela.

Francis Hurtado

Photo: Flickr