Despite strenuous government efforts in the field of public health, Venezuela lacks a sufficient number of physicians for its booming population. As of 1999, there were an estimated 2.4 physicians and 1.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people. As of 1999 total health care expenditure was estimated at 4.2% of GDP.
Commonly reported diseases included malaria (14,610 cases in the first half of 1997) and tuberculosis (3,056 cases in 1995). Leading causes of death per 100,000 people in 1994 were: communicable diseases (79.5), neoplasms (100.1), injuries (74.6), and diseases of the circulatory system (257.9). Venezuela is virtually free of typhoid and yellow fever. To maintain this status, the Department of Health and Social Welfare continues its drainage and mosquito control programs. It also builds aqueducts and sewers in towns of fewer than 5,000 persons. In 2000, 84% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 74% had adequate sanitation.
As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 20.2 and 4.1 per 1,000 people. The infant mortality rate, 50.2 per 1,000 live births in 1971, fell to 19 in 2000. In the same year life expectancy rose to an average of 73 years. As of 2000, about 13% of children under five years old were considered malnourished. Venezuela currently fortifies maize flour with iron and vitamin A. Immunization rates for children up to one year old in 1997 were tuberculosis, 98%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 60%; polio, 76%; and measles, 68%.
As of 1999, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 62,000 and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at 2,000. HIV prevalence was 0.5 per 100 adults.