Polio Returns to Venezuela, and Threatens the Region

June 14, 2018

(The Economist) – IN 1961 Venezuela became the first country in Latin America virtually to eliminate malaria, using a combination of DDT, an insecticide, and drugs. The oil-rich country has now made health history again, this time in a bad way. On June 7th Venezuela’s health department reported to the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) the first case of polio in South America since 1991. This is a big worry, not only for Venezuela but for its neighbours. The re-emergence of polio strongly suggests that Venezuela’s vaccination programme has failed. With thousands of Venezuelans a day fleeing the country’s political and economic crisis, there is a risk that polio and other highly infectious diseases will spread to more countries in the region.