DISTRESS SIGNALS

Venezuela’s Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates Soar

Venezuela’s health ministry on Tuesday said the number of mothers dying during childbirth has skyrocketed and infant mortality has also shown a sharp rise. The figures, the first released since July 2015, showed a 65 percent rise in the number of women dying during labor last year, and a 30 percent increase in infant mortality for the same period. The government data also showed a 76 percent increase in cases of malaria. It was not clear why the ministry waited nearly two years to release the information. The news comes amid nationwide protests and a severe economic crisis, with many Venezuelans suffering from food and medicine shortages. President Nicolas Maduro, who is facing widespread calls for his ouster, has blamed the health crisis on a supposed coup that is being plotted against him, saying medications are deliberately being stolen to intensify public anger.