Caracas (Agenzia Fides) - With the collapsing economy, food and drug shortages and rising food prices, half of Venezuelan children under five years of age are at imminent risk of malnutrition. The alarm arrives from Caritas Venezuela in an investigation regarding child malnutrition in the four States of Vargas, Miranda, Zulia, Distrito Capital and Caracas. The latest figures show that 11.4% of children under five suffer from acute or moderate malnutrition. "We are extremely worried", says a note from Caritas Venezuela responsible sent to Fides. "Since October – she continues - we have been monitoring the levels of malnutrition and providing assistance to children under the age of five. Our results clearly show that the general levels of malnutrition are on the rise and acute malnutrition in children has exceeded the critical threshold. If we do not intervene immediately, it will be difficult for these children to resume their nutritional growth curve". Caritas distributes kits containing specialized food supplements, especially protein and minerals such as iron to the most vulnerable children. Drugs are distributed to people at risk. More than 8 families out of 10, in the 31 places under investigation by Caritas, are eating less than before, and nearly 6 out of 10 have declared that some members of the family are left without food to feed another person in the family.
Hospitals have no medicines and health supplies, and deseases caused by mosquitoes, such as zika, dengue, malaria and chikungunya, as well as child and maternal mortality rates increase. In addition to food shortages, the other major health risk is the lack of drinking water. Caritas wanted to publicize this inquiry to urge national and international community to intervene in the face of the crisis, since it considers it crucial to ensure direct food aid, including food supplements, and restore adequate health facilities, clean water and sanitation. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 19/5/2017)