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Venezuelan crisis causes outbreak  of vaccine-preventable diseases measles and diphtheria

Datum:31 januari 2019
Outbreak of measles and diphtheria in Venezuala
Outbreak of measles and diphtheria in Venezuala

A political crisis and declining oil revenues in Venezuala is causing a resurgence of infectious diseases measles and diphtheria and other deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases. A group of international scientists, including UMCG researcher Adriana Tami, published a report in the scientific journal Emerging Infectious Diseases about this unprecedented humanitarian crisis. 

Measles
The progressive interruption of the national immunisation programme in 2010 along with the dismantling of the primary healthcare infrastructure now follows the circulation of measles. The national coverage rate for the second dose of the measles vaccine was estimated at 52% according to the last reports from the Venezuela Ministry of Health.

Diphtheria
Diphteria, a childhood vaccine-preventable disease, had not been reported In Venezuela the 24 years before 2016. However, since 2016, a total of 2,170 cases have been reported to date. In 2016, the treatment of diphtheria was therefore started for the first time in 24 years. Unofficial data suggest that the vaccination coverage against diphtheria in 2018 might not even reach 50%.

Recommendations
The researchers, including Adriana Tami from Venezuela, a researcher from the Department of Medical Microbiology and Infection Prevention at the UMCG, make a number of recommendations to prevent this infection crisis from escalating further. Tami: "World Health Authorities should urge the Venezuelan government to allow humanitarian aid to address the extreme shortages of food and medicines immediately. In addition, the emergency aid (both nutrition and vaccinations) should be given not only in Venezuela, but also together with Colombian and Brazilian authorities, among others, to limit the consequences of mass migration.“

Read the official UMCG press release about the research here (Dutch).
Read the publication in Emerging Infectious Diseases here.