Venezuela health minister fired after data shows 66% rise in pregnancy-related deaths

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has fired the country's Health Minister Antonieta Caporale days after the government's first release of health data in two years showed soaring infant and maternal mortality rates.

Vice President Tareck El Aissami announced on his Twitter account, that pharmacist Luis Lopez was replacing Caporale.

The firing came after the health ministry recently released new data showing infant and maternal deaths and cases of malaria are skyrocketing in the country already grappling with severe medical shortages.

The data from her office showed that confirmed malaria cases in 2016 stood at 240,000, a 76% increase over the previous year. Maternal or pregnancy-related deaths rose 66%, to 756. Last year, 11,466 infants died, a 30% increase.

The new health minister, Lopez, has been the deputy minister of hospitals for the national government and secretary of health for the Venezuelan state of Aragua, according to state-run news agency AVN.

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