- The Venezuelan healthcare system is in shambles.
- The country has been slapped with a slew of sanctions by the United States.
- China has sent 42,000 coronavirus test kits to the nation.
Venezuela is experiencing possibly the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, sans the Covid-19 situation. The Latin-American nation is not only struggling to contain the epidemic but also trying to tackle deep-seated economic issues that have plagued it for years. They include US sanctions, prevalent corruption, a skyrocketing inflation rate that has surpassed 10 million percent in the past decade, and a collapsed infrastructural system.
Just to get a glimpse on the severity of the situation, the country’s monthly average income has been at around $5 since 2018. Crippling sanctions imposed on the regime by the US targeting the economy have exacerbated the situation. The result is a stalled production industry, a high unemployment rate, and a mélange of other compounding economic issues.
Oil, which for a long time had been the country’s salvation, has also been sanctioned. As a result, there is an oil-shortage due to the lack of badly needed refinery components needed to make it less dense and usable. These would have to be imported, but US sanctions prohibit their purchase.
Due to a lack of funding, its healthcare system is in shambles and unable to handle the incoming crisis created by coronavirus. Panic-buying in the country has led to a shortage of sanitizers, and those available cost a premium. Some pharmacies are selling them at about $4, which for many Venezuelans, is more than the average salary.
Health officials have asked the citizenry to improvise masks and sanitizers. The government has already prohibited travel between states in order to contain the spread. The state has documented just over 40 infections and requested aid from the International Monetary Fund. The request has, however, been declined by the agency, which deems the current administration to be illegitimate.
“This is a crucial moment, and knowing the aggressive and highly contagious levels of this disease, we will take quick and forcible measures to stop its propagation,” Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro said in the letter addressed to the IMF. The agency has already set aside $1 trillion for the fight against the novel virus. The money is to be distributed to affected countries to boost their capacity to handle the crisis.
The IMF has stressed that there is a need for global cooperation, even among the least affected countries, as the economic spillover effect would have far-reaching effects. Decreased consumer buying power due to isolation and lockdowns will also have a domino effect.
“Countries could also face lower export revenues due to falling tourism receipts or a decline in commodity prices. A sudden halt in capital inflows could exacerbate the situation further.” A few nations have come forward to help the embargoed Venezuela. Cuba has already sent 130 doctors to assist in the crisis. China has also sent 42,000 test kits.
Vice President Delcy Rodriguez has expressed gratitude for the support. “From Venezuela’s soul, we want to thank the People’s Republic of China and President Xi Jinping for this generosity,” she said last week.