USNS Comfort Bringing Doctors To Relieve Venezuela Health Crisis
The Pentagon said on August 16, 2018, the hospital ship USNS Comfort is being deployed to Colombia and possibly other South American countries to help people impacted by the ongoing Venezuela health crisis.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in Stars & Stripes, “We're not sending soldiers, we’re sending doctors on this humanitarian mission.”
Secretary Mattis did not provide details on when the USNS Comfort would set sail from it’s Norfolk, VA base.
The USNS Comfort has 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000-bed hospital facility, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT scan and two oxygen-producing plants.
“The exodus of Venezuelans is one of Latin America’s largest mass-population movements in history,” said UNHCR’s William Spindler in a press release. “Since the beginning of the year, an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country traveling to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil.’
“The influx of people is now accelerating, and in the first week of August, some 30,000 Venezuelans entered Columbia,” said Spindler.
In response to the Venezuela crisis, on May 15, 2018, a Travel Alert was issued by the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This Warning - Level 3, Avoid Non-Essential Travel, means USA citizens should avoid visiting Venezuela.
The CDC says Venezuela is experiencing outbreaks of infectious diseases, and adequate health care is currently not available in most of the country.
Additionally, on May 29th, the US Department of State issued a Travel Advisory for Venezuela saying “Reconsider travel to Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.’
If you must travel to Venezuela, the CDC recommends all travelers be up to date on all recommended vaccines, such as the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP) and Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Travel vaccine specialist can be contacted at Vax-Before-Travel.
And, the CDC recommends all travelers bring prescribed medicine to prevent malaria and other contagious diseases.