International Medical Corps Is Ready to Help the People of Venezuela
The country of Venezuela is undergoing a major humanitarian crisis, with roughly 4 million of its citizens having left the country in search of work, food, healthcare and other basic needs. Those left behind are facing an increasingly dire political and economic situation, with no signs of improvement. The government of embattled President Nicolás Maduro is in a standoff with an opposition party led by National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaidó, while inflation rates exceeding 1 million percent, combined with high rates of poverty, have meant that Venezuelans are struggling to access and purchase basic supplies.
Available resources are limited and the need for humanitarian assistance is urgent. Widespread shortages of medicine, food and other basic necessities are resulting in pervasive hunger, malnutrition and a resurgence of communicable disease such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, measles and malaria, at levels not seen since the 1970s. Repeated power outages have limited the population’s access to safe water, health services and educational facilities. According to information International Medical Corps has received from intergovernmental and humanitarian agencies, nearly 80% of health facilities have no running water, hospitals are receiving less than 10% of needed medical supplies and looting of medical infrastructure and storage facilities is widespread. At the same time, infant and maternal mortality rates are skyrocketing, with conditions sure to deteriorate further as Venezuela’s medical infrastructure struggles to stay afloat.
International Medical Corps deployed an emergency assessment team to Colombia in May 2018 to assess humanitarian needs, determine the level and types of health needs, assess operational environment for logistics support and develop implementation strategies. In February 2019, we redeployed to Colombia, as well as to Panama, to reassess the most urgent needs spanning health, logistics and nutrition. Our team is focusing on how best to coordinate efforts with other NGOs and local organizations, and is coordinating with key partners and local, regional and international stakeholders.
Working with these partners, International Medical Corps has developed an action plan focusing on critical medical, nutrition and sanitation needs of vulnerable populations, including children under five, pregnant and nursing mothers, older adults, those with chronic health conditions, displaced populations and those in need of emergency medical care. We have mobilized more than $400,000 worth of medication and medical supplies—including antibiotics and medicines for chronic diseases, including high blood pressure—to support local health facilities and the populations they serve. Other priority interventions will focus on hospital and clinic support and on acute malnutrition.
As this rapidly evolving situation develops, International Medical Corps stands ready—coordinating with global contacts, establishing key partnerships and preparing to mobilize for a multi-disciplinary response to deliver lifesaving aid and interventions to the people of Venezuela.