Birth and Death in Venezuela's Time of Hunger

Credit: Adriana Fernandez Loureiro / Efecto Cocuyo

Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis is threatening those who carry the future in their bellies. Pregnant women are going without adequate food or medical attention in the midst of a national economic emergency. The government insists on attributing the crisis to an external plot to overthrow it, while the opposition blames the administration for inefficiency and corruption.

But even as both sides wrangle over who is at fault, Venezuelan mothers are not getting enough to eat, due to high food prices and massive inflation. A lack of resources has led to a general collapse of the country’s healthcare system. The end result is that Venezuelan babies’ birth weights are falling, making them weaker and more likely to die.

Reporters from Efecto Cocuyo and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) obtained leaked documents showing birth statistics from the two primary maternity hospitals in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. For the past three years, the number of babies born with low birth weights has risen steadily — a growing public health problem that is moving away from the goals set in the 2012-2025 Nutritional Goals of the World Health Organization (WHO).

This series examines the numbers as well as the voices of eight women (pregnant or having recently given birth) who describe what it is like to give birth in hunger.

Stories

New Programs for Mothers Fail to Improve Health

As the country’s humanitarian crisis deepens, Venezuela’s healthcare system has been under immense strain. Grand plans to aid pregnant women in poverty have come to nothing, leaving them ever more vulnerable.

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Venezuelan Newborns Suffer as Mothers Struggle with Hunger

Shortages of essential goods and services has hit maternal health in Venezuela hard, resulting in dangerously low birth weights of newborns. Rather than tackle the problem, the authorities barely admit its existence.

Read the article

Voices

The Hunger Stories Team:

OCCRP: Drew Sullivan, Ricardo Gines, Jody McPhillips, Maxim Edwards, Ilya Lozovsky

Efecto Cocuyo: Laura Weffer Cifuentes, Edgar Lopez, Ana Carolina Griffin, Cristina Gonzalez, Erick Chaviel