Venezuela has not seen a case of the vaccine preventable disease, diphtheria, in some 24 years until 2016.
Media accounts have put the number of diphtheria cases in Bolivar state, near the borders of Brazil and Guyana, to about 23, according to physicians in the country.
However, there are people in the Venezuelan government who dispute the diphtheria situation, either by denial or by attributing it to outside forces.
Recently, Minister for Health, Luisana Melo said, “There are some 23 deaths [attributed by doctors]. That is totally false. It’s all under control, and the epidemiological fence was made and the strategy for vaccination of the population increased.”
This denial has not stopped the Guyana government to begin a diphtheria vaccination campaign on the border with Venezuela.
In addition, there is some evidence from the words of Venezuelan leaders to show they are trying to hide what’s happening.
Marisol Escalona, Coordinator of the government’s Expanded Program on Immunization, came out with an odd warning to the medical community: ”You cannot report anything about diphtheria because it goes against the Bolivarian revolution.“
In fact, it’s been well over the year since the Ministry of Health has published the Epidemiological Bulletin, leaving everyone clueless of not only accurate data on diphtheria, but also Zika virus, Zika related microcephaly, dengue fever, malaria and a plethora of other health related and infectious disease issues.
Lastly, some in Venezuela have blamed the resurgence of diphtheria on germ warfare. Diosdado Cabello, a prominent Chavista, said Venezuela is the target of a “germ warfare orchestrated by the CIA labs.”
No evidence was presented to substantiated the claim.
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