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The Devastation of Covid-19 and Why Peru is Losing

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Peru imposed one of the earliest lockdowns in Latin America to stop the spread of coronavirus but has still seen cases rise rapidly. Why?

Martín Vizcarra, the President of Peru, called this pandemic the “most serious crisis in history.”

Alternate Factors lead to a Failed System:

While global health experts point to Peru’s healthcare system’s under-preparedness leading to an increase in deaths, other factors greatly contribute to why the country is failing to contain this virus. 

1) Refrigerators( and a lack thereof) 

  • 40% of people living in Peru don’t have a refrigerator. Without a refrigerator, citizens are traveling to local markets at least two times a week. These markets are overcrowded, and there is limited ability to social distance

  • La Victoria, a fruit market, had a percentage of 86% of vendors infected with COVID-19. 

"You would buy, you would get infected, you would go home with the virus, and you would spread it to the whole family” - President Viscarra

2) The Economy 

  • 68 percent of people in Peru work under the informal sector. This means the jobs they have make social distancing hard and dependent on tourism. 

3) Technology 

  • At the beginning of COVID, each lab in Peru was only able to process 100 tests a day 

  • To put this in perspective, the United States was able to test almost ten times that amount

  • Partners In Health (PIH), a healthcare company, focusing their work in Lima and Carabayllo came up with the idea for mobile molecular testing lab

  • To stop the spread, molecular tests are crucial; they distinguish the genetics of the virus with high accuracy.

  • A new mobile molecular testing lab was launched with the help of Peru’s Ministry of Health, and with this new technology they can process over 600 tests daily. 

An Unprepared Healthcare System:

Hospitals in Peru have limited workers and an ample amount of patients. Several thousand oxygen tanks and mechanical ventilators were reported damaged in April contributing to a lack of supplies. Adding on, $3,000 is what private hospitals are asking patients to pay for coronavirus care per day. 

“The whole health system has collapsed in Peru — the whole public system. And the few beds that [are] needed that [are] empty in private clinics [are] controlled by the corporations that want a huge amount of money” - Lionel Vigil, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean at World Neighbors 

 Even though the system is falling apart, PIH is helping. Their team is going house to house to provide free testing and screening. On top of that, the group is offering hygiene packages to families. The packages include bleach and face masks. In some homes, they try educating others about washing hands, but unfortunately few homes have water. 

Inequality in Education:

Peru was among the first few countries that ordered a national lockdown including school.

From preschool to high school, 8 million students throughout the country were forced into their homes. Within a few weeks, the Ministry of Education came up with the Aprendo en Casa( Learn From Home) strategy. 4.3 million kids watched educational shows under the AEC plan that debuted on their morning television. 

However, 60% of students in rural areas don't have access to the Internet. How are these kids supposed to learn? 

Unfortunately, this question is left unanswered. Evolution Hope is working with various organizations and focusing on this very problem because every kid deserves an equal right to learn. 

Article Credit: Apoorva Khandelwala

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