Severe malnutrition is causing rates of infant mortality to rise in Venezuela, according to a report in the Guardian
The exact rate of cases is unknown because the Venezuelan government has not released figures in recent years, but data from 2017 reveals that the infant mortality rate rose 30% compared to the previous year.
One emergency room doctor who spoke to the Guardian said that malnutrition cases had spiked in the past one to two years. He said that many children were suffering from severe protein-calorie malnutrition.
Three young children died during a 5-day span at Ciudad Bolívar’s Ruiz y Páez hospital, all due in part to malnutrition, according to the Guardian.
A study in the Lancet published in January 2019 found that the infant mortality rate in the country has been steadily rising since around 2009, after a long period of decline.
“The increase in infant mortality rate in 2016 compared with 2008 takes the country back to the level observed at the end of the 1990s, wiping out 18 years of expected progress,” the report found.
Venezuela is currently in the midst of an economic crisis, with nearly nine in 10 citizens living in poverty. A report from last year found that 3.7 million Venezuelans were malnourished, out of a population of about 29 million people.
Venezuela’s economic collapse is the biggest outside of war in 45 years, economists told the New York Times. The country has also been dealing with runaway hyper-inflation that has made recovery challenging.
The United Nations sets out eliminating hunger as the target of Global Goal 2, and calls for an end to malnutrition as a sub-target of this goal.