CARACAS – The Red Cross will distribute mosquito nets to hospitals in Venezuela to counter the spread of malaria, a disaster management coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies said on Wednesday.
The nets are to be provided to health facilities in southern states with a “high prevalence” of malaria, such as Bolivar, bordering Brazil, and Apure, which borders Colombia, Alberto Monguzzi said.
He said that the Red Cross was in touch with “other humanitarian actors” operating in the country in order to “avoid duplicating efforts” in the fight against malaria in Venezuela, which led the world last year in the number of new cases.
Besides the mosquito nets, the Red Cross is ready to begin distributing a range of medical supplies to hospitals and clinics across the country, Monguzzi said.
The Red Cross is now in discussion with the Health Ministry to identify which institutions are most in need of medications and other materials, he said.
Also awaiting distribution are electric generators to minimize dangerous disruptions at hospitals due to frequent power blackouts.
The generators were part of a shipment of 24 tons of medical supplies that arrived Monday in Caracas.
The Venezuelan Red Cross says that it expects to be able to aid as many as 650,000 people over the course of a year provided that the global fund-raising campaign achieves its goal of amassing $50 million in donations.
One in every four people in Venezuela is in need of humanitarian assistance, according to figures compiled by the United Nations.
The oil-rich Andean nation has been mired for years in economic crisis, made worse by sweeping US sanctions aimed at toppling leftist incumbent Nicolas Maduro.
Washington’s moves to freeze government bank accounts and divert oil-export revenue away from the Maduro administration have made it difficult for Venezuela to purchase medicines and supplies through usual channels, forcing Caracas to turn to the International Red Cross and to allies such as Cuba, Russia and China.