COVID-19 in Colombia and Venezuela: two sides of the coin

Rodríguez-Morales and Figuera

[Extract] Over the past two years the world and its different regions, including Latin America, have been suffering from the enormous burden and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (2) (SARS-CoV-2). Colombia and Venezuela have been greatly affected.(1,2 ) Despite sharing historical and cultural roots and similarities, each nation has entirely different sanitary conditions, especially regarding infectious, tropical, and reemerging illnesses, including vaccine-preventable diseases. Such differences have increased especially during the last two decades.

Major infectious diseases in Colombia, such as tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria, are under reasonable control. Malaria, in particular, has significantly decreased during the past decade.(3) Conversely, in Venezuela, all of these diseases are rising, especially malaria, which is shifting the country from being the former leader in vector-borne disease control to the nation with the highest morbidity in the Americas.(4) Vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as measles, diphtheria, mumps, pertussis, and hepatitis A, show a similar picture, with high vaccination coverage in Colombia and sustained outbreaks across multiple years in the past decade in Venezuela.

In addition, the risk and occurrence of imported cases of these diseases in Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, and other countries in Latin America and beyond also increased because of critical Venezuelan migration in the region.(6–8) The arrival of COVID-19 to Latin America has compounded existing health crises in Venezuela. The COVID-19 pandemic has required different surveillance, diagnostic, and management approaches as well as marked differences in the national vaccination plans. Therefore, the COVID-19 crisis in these two Andean countries shows two different sides of the coin.[...]

All articles from this supplement are available free of charge and in full text in English in the American Journal of Public Health and Spanish in the Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública.


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