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Venezuela: Health Emergency Operational Update Report n° 4 (MDRVE004)

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Situation Report
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A. SITUATION ANALYSIS

Description of the context

As part of the health system and service delivery, the Venezuelan Red Cross (VRC) 8 hospitals and 34 outpatients' clinics have continued responding to the country's health needs. These centres have focused their activities exclusively on emergency health care, the referral of suspected COVID-19 cases, and obstetrics and gynecology consultations. All VRC-IFRC field activities have been to guarantee the health and safety of the volunteers and staff of the organization, as well as the proper supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Power outages have continued throughout the country, which has impacted other services, such as water quality, health, and education. Additionally, since May 2020, the country faces fuel shortages (oil and diesel fuel), especially in border states (Zulia, Táchira, and Apure), where the payment modality varies from the Venezuelan sovereign bolívares (VES) to US dollars (USD) and Colombian pesos (COP).
Moreover, failures have been registered in the distribution of domestic gas in several states. Many people use biomass and firewood for cooking, despite the risk of related respiratory diseases. As indicated in the previous operations update, the outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as diphtheria, measles, and malaria, increased the incidence of malaria, tuberculosis, and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in Venezuela, remain latent in the country.

Due to the shortage of petrol and diesel fuel, water pumping and supplies at urban and rural levels have been affected; quality and quantity are inadequate due to the lack of treatment supplies. As a result of the population's living conditions, many people do not have access to clean and safe water, with repercussions in other areas and services. This situation is made more serious amidst the COVID19 pandemic. This situation is linked to delays or suspension of rubbish collection and/or lack of personnel to maintain the already deteriorated water and sanitation infrastructure.

Starting in March 2020, the Government of Venezuela established restrictions to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Since July 2020, the country carries out its activities under a "7x7" modality. This consists of 7 days of quarantine flexibility. Primary economic sectors can typically work in a restricted timeframe (complying with biosecurity measures), followed by seven days of rigorous quarantine, which consists of activating only essential sectors the rest of the population remains confined. Currently, the government is developing a national-level vaccination plan.

Within the context of COVID-19, there are increased rates of domestic violence, causing victimssurvivors to remain in the same environment as their perpetrators, with the former unable to access protective services. In this regard, the VRC is implementing actions to contribute to the well-being of the National Society members. Mental Health and Psychological Support (MHPSS) has been provided through phone calls to the most affected volunteers and group debriefing sessions, attention to the families of volunteers who are positive for COVID-19, and providing other types of access to psychosocial services, as necessary. Several demonstrations occurred in 2020. In this regard, the National Society's actions have focused on first aid actions and pre-hospital care, increased operational security analysis to ensure the volunteers' safety, and plans for nationwide deployments.