Venezuela’s Health Care Crisis Now Poses a Global Threat

The coronavirus has quickly evolved from an epidemic in China’s Hubei province to a global pandemic. The question now isn’t which countries will get it, but how they will respond—and whether human rights will be protected. The World Bank and the United Nations have committed emergency funds to support the response, prioritizing countries with weak health systems. But that critical funding needs to be paired with political will, a sense of urgency, and transparency in the countries receiving aid.

In Venezuela, that vital political will is hard to imagine. The country’s health system is collapsing. Hospitals have closed or are operating at a fraction of their capacity, many without regular access to electricity or water. The public health infrastructure is so weak that in 2019, Venezuela had the world’s steepest rise in malaria cases. Vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and diphtheria have already returned long before the epidemic hit.


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