Poverty, hunger and malnutrition

The Venezuelan people are experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis. The poverty rate rose to 87% in 2017 from 48% in 2014, and 61% of Venezuelans now suffer from chronic poverty.

People cannot afford to eat:

  1. Three quarters of Venezuelans lost an average of 9 kg in 2016, with 64% losing a further 11 kg in 2017.
  2. 10 million people skip at least one meal a day, often to help feed their children.
  3. Food insecurity now affects 80% of the population.
  4. One in 12 households eat ͞from the street, meaning that they scavenge for leftover food from garbage bins.

Malnutrition has been rising quickly:

  1. The percentage of children showing signs of acute malnutrition reached 14.5% in November 2017.
  2. Malnutrition in children stunts development, 33% of Venezuelan children have already experienced delayed growth.
  3. Over 50% of children are experiencing some form of malnutrition and consequent deaths are rising, with some five children dying each week.

On December 3 2017, a baby of just eight months died in the Dr. Egor Nucete Hospital of severe malnutrition. The baby had pellagra, a skin disease caused by deficiency of niacin. Niacin is a vitamin found in foods such as red meat, milk and eggs. Two days before, 3-year-old Gilberto Mendoza died from complications derived from malnutrition and pneumonia. On December 6, Johan Fajardo, a 13-year-old teenager from Guanare weighing a mere 11 kilos died in Dr. Miguel Oraa Hospital.

Even for those who survive the effects will still be severe. Malnutrition in young children can stunt development. Some 33% of Venezuelan children are already experiencing a delay in growth. The effects are irreversible and will affect them for life.

The New York Times investigated in 21 public hospitals across the country over a five-month period ending in December 2017. The investigation identified roughly 2,800 cases of child malnutrition and a consequent 400 deaths.  Dr. Milagros Hernández, a doctor at a children’s hospital in the northern city of Barquisimeto, said that “sometimes they die in your arms just from dehydration”. According to Dr. Ingrid Soto de Sanabria, the chief of the hospital’s nutrition, growth and development department, “in many countries, extreme malnutrition can be caused when there is war, a drought, some sort of catastrophe or an earthquake, but in our country it is directly related to the shortages and inflation”.