The world is still thick in the battle of this pandemic. Many countries are in the headlines facing an overwhelming second wave such as Peru and India. The developing world is struggling to overcome the challenges of this pandemic while facing a lack of resources, vaccines, and weak health systems.
Help Peru’s most recent official cause Emergency Relief has been the target of our last fundraiser campaign, Oxygen for Peru. Peru is going through the most difficult crisis of its modern history. The first wave of Coronavirus kept the hospitals full and was relentless. The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging the country and driving Peru’s health system to collapse. Cesar Carcamo, an epidemiologist at Cayetano Heredia University states, “we think that 40% of Peruvians were infected in the first wave, the fact that the second wave has been even worse tells me that people are getting re-infected” (Tegel). What determined the second wave was a dramatic spike in infections caused by the contagious Brazilian variant in at least 40% of the cases (Chauvin). The country was ill-prepared to face a pandemic, with only 400 ICU Beds equipped with mechanical respirators in a 33 million people country. Since the first wave, it has dramatically invested and received donations in medical equipment and new hospital beds, oxygen plants… But it hasn’t been enough.
To have a better understanding of the current impact the Coronavirus pandemic is having on Peru here are some Covid-19 stats in Peru:
– total cases 1,824,457 (Ministerio de Salud)
– 15.99 % positivity rate (Ministerio de Salud) -anything above 5% is considered high community transmission (Hartman)
– 2,661 ventilated patients out of a total of 2,785 ICU beds in the country. (Ministerio de Salud)
– 4,000 per 1 million excess deaths or 166,000+ deaths (Coronavirus Tracker)
– Less than 4% of the population inoculated with one dose (Bhatia et al.)
– According to the Vice Minister of Health there is around 40% of seroprevalence in the Capital City. (Gestión)
Peru is suffocating under Covid-19. According to the World Health Organization, 1 out of 5 symptomatic Covid patients might need oxygen therapy. “Clinical trials have shown if a patient meets the criteria to use oxygen, early oxygen therapy is associated with lower mortality”, explained to Help Peru Dr. Daniel Garcia Choza, observation room coordinator at Centro de Aislamiento Villa Panamericana, an isolation center in Lima. In Peru, oxygen demand has tripled and the country lacks 110 tons of oxygen per day to care for Covid-19 patients (Reuters). The rest has to be imported. Oxygen prices have skyrocketed, and a black market has emerged. With hospitals full and unable to treat patients with mild to moderate respiratory difficulties, people have to receive oxygen therapy at home. As a result, family members of the patients line up for up to 4 days and nights on the streets to refill oxygen tanks (Reuters). The tanks’ capacity is finite, within a day or 2, they’re empty again. Hospitals don’t have their oxygen supply guaranteed either. “At least 11 hospitals in Lima, home to almost a third of the country’s population, have run short of oxygen,” said, Peruvian Medical Federation President Godofredo Talavera (Reuters).
In response to the dire need for oxygen in Peru, Help Peru hosted the special fundraiser Oxygen for Peru from March 26 to April 9. We saw an opportunity to alleviate the oxygen shortage, save patients’ lives, and cost-effectively desaturate the health system with the use of oxygen concentrators. Oxygen Concentrators are preferable to oxygen tanks because they:
– Provide endless oxygen as long as they have power
– Take air from the room, filter it, and concentrate its oxygen (no need for endless lines to refill)
– Are portable (allow at-home treatment)
– Are reusable
Oxygen concentrators have also shown to have great success with treating patients at home. We partnered with Asociación Bienaventuranzas, an organization in Lima that had 70 existing concentrators that have been used by 280 Covid patients. After the use of the concentrators, 84% of the patients recovered at home and did not need hospitalization.
For the special fundraiser, we set a goal of 45 concentrators. Each concentrator costs about $700. In the end, we were able to raise $70,000 and donate 100 concentrators! We have donated 70 concentrators to be distributed in Lima and 30 to be distributed in Piura.
The crisis is not near its end in Peru, but we are proud of you, the Help Peru family, for making a positive impact on hundreds of lives. Every little bit counts and we know Peru is grateful, as are we.
Chauvin, Lucien Anthony Faiola. “Brazil Has Become South America’s Superspreader Event.” Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2021, www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/04/05/brazil-variant-coronavirus-south-america.
“Coronavirus Tracker: The Latest Figures as Countries Fight the Covid-19 Resurgence | Free to Read.” Financial Times, 5 May 2021, www.ft.com/content/a2901ce8-5eb7-4633-b89c-cbdf5b386938.
Hartman, Melissa. “COVID-19 Testing: Understanding the ‘Percent Positive.’” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 10 Aug. 2020, www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/covid-19-testing-understanding-the-percent-positive.html.
The Economist. “Tracking Covid-19 Excess Deaths across Countries.” The Economist, 20 Apr. 2021, www.economist.com/graphic-detail/coronavirus-excess-deaths-tracker.