Extensive inoculation programs and the availability of low- or no-cost health care provided by the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security have made Venezuela's health care infrastructure one of the more advanced in Latin America. Once the most comprehensive and well funded in the region, the health care system deteriorated sharply since the 1980s. Government expenditures on health care constituted an estimated 4.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2002. Total health expenditures per capita in 2001 totaled US$386. Per capita government expenditures on health in 2001 totaled US$240.
In a 1992-3 cholera epidemic in the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela's political leaders were accused of racial profiling of their own indigenous people to deflect blame from the country's institutions, thereby aggravating the epidemic.
Private hospitals and clinics and the qualifications of their medical personnel are comparable to U.S. standards. Private health services are costly and "full to bursting." The Government has accused private hospitals of profiteering. 2,000 doctors have left the country in 2006-'08 period. However, overall life expectancy, as of 2009, is 74 compared to Brazil's 72 where roughly 1 in 5 have private health insurance.
During the 1995–99 period, the mortality rate by broad groups of causes per 100,000 population was 162.3 for diseases of the circulatory system, 63.8 for malignant neoplasms, 55.3 for external causes, 53.6 for communicable diseases, and 22.4 for certain conditions originating before birth. Several transmissible diseases, including dengue fever, malaria, measles, and tuberculosis, have reappeared in recent years. In August 2001, President Hugo Chávez announced a national campaign to fight the dengue fever epidemic that had infected 24,000 and killed four. Child immunization for measles in 2002 (as a percentage of under 12 months) was 78 percent, as compared with 84 percent in 1999. In 1999 an estimated 62,000 Venezuelans were living with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS); and in 2001 an estimated 2,000 people died from AIDS. At the end of 2003, the percentage of the population between the ages of 15 to 49 with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS was 0.7. In 2000, 85 percent of the urban population and 70 percent of the rural population had access to improved water. Improved sanitation was available to 71 percent of the urban population and 48 percent of the rural population.