Children are starving to death in socialist Venezuela, and the situation appears to be worsening. Food shortages in Venezuela have reached crisis levels and have created a significant increase in child malnutrition. In the capital city of Caracas, the number of cases of severely malnourished children has doubled in just one year. Dr. Ingrid Soto, chief of nutrition at J.M. de los Rios Hospital, says that so far this year they’ve admitted 65 children with severe malnutrition. In all of 2015, the total number of cases was 35. Across the nation of Venezuela this year, seven children have died. The rampant occurrence of death is directly related to children not having enough food in their system, says a report from Fox News Latino.
A 5-month-old infant is one of more than 60 children being treated for severe malnutrition at the J.M. de los Rios Hospital, which is Venezuela’s main pediatric hospital. His mother, Laura Montilva, 22, is unable to produce enough milk to adequately nourish him and infant formula is a luxury item in her country. Her baby’s weight is 8.5 pounds, far too small for his age. Laura gets a very limited amount of formula which she dissolves a tablespoon at a time in a large water bottle to make it go further. She struggles to get enough to feed him the diluted liquid four times a day, when the recommended number of feedings for her baby’s age is eight times a day.
“I don’t have money. I don’t feed him well and I can’t buy him milk formula.”
The seriously limited amounts of infant formula in the country means mothers must try to breastfeed their babies when at all possible. Sadly, however, malnourished mothers are often unable to produce breast milk rich enough or ample enough to feed their infants, thereby compounding the problem. According to hospital records, two-thirds of the children admitted this year are nursing babies. The ramifications are terrifying. Dr. Soto explains.
“If an adult suffers from malnutrition, it will not effect his brain and development so much as it would a kid in the first 1,000 days of life. They they will have issues with memory, concentration, school problems.”
Dr. Mercedes Lopez de Blanco, a pediatrician with the Bengoa Foundation, elaborates on the problem.
“Malnourished children are not going to be able to compete in the future. They are going to have poor schooling. We are playing with human potential. It’s a sin.
While the impact this is having on children is the most devastating aspect of Venezuela’s food shortages, it is not limited to only children. Children are starving to death, but malnutrition is impacting people of all ages in Venezuela. Those in rural, outlying areas seem to be hit the hardest. Three universities have conducted a survey to measure the problem. United Youth Journalists showed that 76 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty. Additionally, 49 percent of those are in “critical” poverty. Roughly 3.6 million people in the nation are able to eat only twice a day. Their food selection being what it is, however, they’re not likely to be getting the most nourishing food when they do eat. Food scarcity has reached historic levels and Venezuelans are suffering.
A study was conducted separately by the Bengoa Foundation and Venezuelan Health Watch and found that in the year 2015, calorie consumption decreased from 2,500 daily to 1,780 daily for children and teenagers across the country. Childhood and the teen years are crucial times in human development and the ramifications of malnutrition during these stages is critical. Children are fainting in class, says a report from the Miami Herald. William Barrientes, a physician who is also vice president of the National Assembly’s Health Committee, even posted a video on YouTube to expose the crisis of starving children in Venezuela.
“We are seeing cases not seen for 40 years. We are seeing cases of marasmus, an extremely grave type of malnutrition. Hospitals are seeing children who seek help, with swollen heads, their skin stuck to the bones and their bellies swollen.”
He goes on to say that the number of children admitted to hospitals for severe malnutrition has increased. A survey conducted by his committee reveals that nine out of 10 Venezuelan homes lack the resources to provide a balanced diet. The country’s economy has descended to major inflation, and families are often unable to afford even the most basic diets for their children. The most basic grocery requirements for a family of five costs about $226 U.S. dollars for one month. Unfortunately, the minimum monthly salary comes to about $15 U.S. dollars. This means that more Venezuelans are starving than not. Venezuela has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. So why are the people starving? Social media users blame the American political left.
Experts on the economy say the problems began about three years ago when President Hugo Chavez’s socialist party choked out domestic production and increased the amounts of imported products. The situation reached crisis proportions last year when a plunge in oil prices cut the income needed to continue importing the quantities of food it would take to feed the nation of over 30 million people. As a result, the nation’s children are starving to death. Current President Nicolas Maduro is more than aware of his nation’s crisis and that children are starving to death. He likes to joke about the typical Venezuelan diet that is named after him and how it’s making Venezuelans skinnier.
“The ‘Maduro diet’ makes you hard.”
[Featured Image by Sayan Puangkham/Shutterstock]