The 2016 rate is equivalent to the rate recorded in the late 1990s, say the researchers, meaning 18 years of progress may have been lost.
The researchers could not work out the cause of death but pointed to a number of factors. The number of cases of malaria has increased from 1.5 per 1000 inhabitants in 2010 to 10.1 in 2017.
The number of measles cases have rocketed – between January and August there were 4605 cases, whereas in the past there were rarely more than 300 cases a year. Diphtheria has also returned to the country, with 2024 cases reported since 2016.
The report also highlights a 35 per cent increase in the number of cases of diarrhoea and a 40 per cent increase in cases of acute bronchitis between 2014 and 2016.
Researchers struggled to get accurate data because of the “strict secrecy policy” ruling public institutions in Venezuela, with the government banning publication of mortality statistics in 2013.
The researchers instead had to rely on estimates from the World Health Organization and the United Nations which, they believe, are likely to be underestimates as they were based on assumptions that the downward trend would continue at the same pace.
The authors of the paper say the recent sharp falls in living standards and health care suffered by the Venezuelan people mean the death rate could be higher.