May 12 (UPI) -- Days after she released a damning report showing infant and maternal mortality rates had increased significantly, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro fired the nation's health minister.
Anotnieta Caporale, the minister who produced the Venezuelan government's first report on public health problems in more than two years, was sacked. A deputy was promoted to her job, Vice President Tareck El Aissami announced on Twitter Thursday night.
The report found infant mortality rates had increased 30 percent and the number of women dying in childbirth went up a staggering 65 percent since the last time the government compiled data. It also found increases in preventable diseases like diphtheria and malaria.
Maduro's government has become deeply unpopular in Venezuela over widespread reports of incompetence and corruption. The petroleum-rich nation has suffered a crippling recession due to the drop in oil prices. That has led to widespread shortages in food and medicine and other basic supplies, which has in turn created a health crisis. Many Venezuelans do not have access to basic healthcare as a result of the economic downturn.
Maduro has blamed the shortages on opposition forces hoarding supplies in an attempt to create a popular uprising against his government.