Venezuelan migrants: Malaria detected among adults, chronic malnutrition in more children

…can access health services at Port Kaituma Hospital

Cases of malaria have now been detected among adult Venezuelan migrants, who were recently found living on the river banks at Anabisi, Region One (Barima-Waini), in poor living conditions. More children among the group are also suffering from chronic malnutrition.
A follow-up visit was made to the community on Sunday, one day after authorities went into the area to assess the situation; and provide relief and medical attention.
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony gave an update on the matter on Monday, noting that when the team arrived in the community, 25 more children were examined. Cases of upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhoeal diseases and rashes continued to be the predominant conditions along with chronic malnutrition.
“They were able to review about 25 more children, going through more detailed check-ups and so forth. Of those 25, we found that some of them again had similar illnesses: upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhoeal disease and we had a number of children with skin rashes; and of course, the chronic malnutrition,” he detailed.
Medical staffers would have provided treatment and explained how to use some of the drugs and solutions delivered. Meanwhile, 42 adults were examined where malaria was detected.
“We saw similar types of illnesses among the adults, in addition to which we were able to detect among the group, some cases of malaria and they were given treatment based on the medical conditions that we have.”
It is estimated that some 198 persons are currently residing in the community – located about 15 minutes from Port Kaituma. There are about 25 families. Due to unhygienic living conditions, jerrycans were distributed to filter the water used from the river.
“Because of the unhygienic conditions, they’re using the same water from the river and they’re using the same water to wash and do other things there. The water is not of good quality. We gave them some jerrycans which have filters in them so when they take the water from the river, they can do some level of filtration which would help to purify the contaminated water, making it better for them to drink and which would prevent some of the diarrhoeal disease that they’re experiencing,” Dr Anthony shared.
Arrangements were made for hammock-nets for the migrants, in order to protect from mosquitoes. Persons in the community will be selected to liaise with the Port Kaituma Hospital and regional officials to address any medical challenges in systematic way. With this mechanism, settlers would also be able to access other healthcare needs. A senior environmental health officer would have also briefed individuals on how to dispose of their garbage in a specific area.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

“I think, by a large, the interventions that were made were very timely because it would certainly help the community to get better healthcare. The CDC, through the Prime Minister’s Office and the regional officials there also took in a number of hampers and these were distributed to the families so that they have essential things to cook and to make sure that they have enough food for a number of weeks.”
The Minister said these persons have settled on uninhabited land, and are not affecting residents within the area. For now, their challenge is to secure jobs to obtain food and key necessities.
He zeroed in, “I don’t think they are directly affecting anybody within that area. I think their challenge is how to maybe access food, get some jobs. We were told that some of them would go to Port Kaituma to look for jobs so they’re trying to make a living and basically to get some earning.”
When asked about COVID-19 immunisation, it was underscored that the primary focus was to tackle pressing medical conditions. At a later date, a team can return to immunise the migrants.
He expressed, “The immediate thing was to figure out what were the predominant medical problems in the community and once we knew that, to rectify those as quickly as possible. We can always go back to do COVID-19 [vaccination] and other things. They’re not far away from Port Kaituma.”
Following reports of the discovery in sections of the media last week, the Office of the Prime Minister had stated that several Government agencies immediately responded to provide the necessary emergency interventions. These agencies would have provided immediate medical and food relief to the migrants.
The group is said to be of Warrau origin and originated from Venezuela, having fled to escape economic hardships. There was no indication of starvation as reported, officials later confirmed. (G12)