Malaria cases in Venezuela rose 76% in 2016, records from health ministry say.
(CNN)Infant and maternal deaths and cases of malaria are skyrocketing in Venezuela, which is grappling with severe medical shortages.
Confirmed malaria cases in 2016 stood at 240,000, a 76% increase over 2015. Maternal deaths rose 66% to 756. Last year, 11,466 infants died, a 30% increase, according to new records recently released by Venezuela's health ministry. It's the first health data released by the government in nearly two years.The staggering increases illustrate how badly Venezuela lacks basic medicine, equipment and supplies to treat even the simplest of injuries.Venezuelans say they must treat themselves at public hospitals.
The country was already facing a shortage of more than 80% of the medicines doctors need.
"If you need to have an operation, nowadays, you must bring your own medicines to the hospital," says Eugenia Morin, a 59-year old the housewife who protested against the government last week. "There are no supplies to attend the most basic emergencies."
According to statistics released by the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation, by June 2016, the country was already facing a shortage of more than 80% of the medicines doctors need. And it's not just medicine. Patients are responsible for any material needed to treat them: needles, gauze pads, saline solution. When patients can get the money together to purchase these items, they become targets -- hospital rooms are not safe from thieves looking to sell medication on the black market, or fellow patients in desperation.
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