Environmental impact caused by Illegal mining and the rise of malaria in southern Venezuela

A recently published article in BBC news reporting the environmental impact caused by illegal mining and the rise of malaria in southern Venezuela.

26 El impacto ambiental causado por la minería ilegal y el aumento de la malaria en el sur de VenezuelaVenezuela used to be a world leader in managing malaria, but is now the only country in Latin America where incidence of the disease is increasing.

Around 75,000 people were infected last year, and according to government figures, 60% of cases were in Sifontes, a tiny region of the country where gold mining – where workers drill for gold in mosquito-friendly standing water – is booming, and healthcare is scarce.

From the 1960s to late 1980s, malaria was almost eradicated in the country. But because its tropical conditions, Venezuela has always had several pockets where the disease remained. These areas stayed under control until recently.

Last year, the country registered the highest number of cases of malaria in the last 50 years, with 300 out of every 100,000 people infected.

Throughout the previous decades the average was 75 cases in every 100,000. And according to the Ministry of Health, it seems that 2014 is going to be just as bad as 2013.

Both the government and critics agree that the cause of the surge is in part due to to the boom of illegal gold mining in the region.

But in the past 20 years, thousands of miners have come from all over the continent, generating an environmental impact that helps the mosquitoes breed.

So far this year, this country of 30m people has registered more than 45,000 cases of malaria, according to government statistics.

In the wild state of Bolivar, the municipality of Sifontes is “ground zero” of the malaria surge.

The environmental impact of mining has, as locals put it, “made mosquitoes angry.”

The boom of illegal mines means more people eroding the rainforest, cutting trees and creating pools of stagnant water to extract gold.

The mining conditions, poor infrastructure, and ever-swelling numbers of people for mosquitoes to feast on, have created perfect conditions for malaria to spread.

Source | BBC World

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