Oxygen is one of the most important weapons to maintain the survival of coronavirus patients. At present, supply is in short supply and has become a powerful symbol of Peru’s chaos. Desperate citizens have turned to the emerging black market, selling tanks at high prices on social media and e-commerce sites.
One of those seeking oxygen is Carlos Roque Rojas, 41, whose 81-year-old mother has fever and difficulty breathing. He looked around for oxygen for her, but ultimately failed. He told CNN: “My mother was abandoned.” “There is too much demand for oxygen.”
Roque, who lives in the Loreto area of the Amazon Basin, described people as dying next to him by the hospital and crashing in front of him. Soon after, his mother died.
Roque’s experience illustrates the chaos caused by the pandemic in the region. The two doctors told him that his mother had coronavirus, although her post-mortem test was negative and the cause of death was recorded as pneumonia. Rock told CNN: “I don’t know what to believe.” But for him, it was obvious that finding oxygen would help her live.
He said that the country’s failure to prepare for a pandemic is “incredible”. He said: “They need to improve our health system.” “They need to improve oxygen production equipment.”
The coastal city of Lambayeque is one of the hot spots. Marcela Puicón, 30, is working hard to provide oxygen to tortured family members.
Puicón’s 60-year-old father is fighting pneumonia after being infected with coronavirus, and he also has lung disease. Puicón and her six siblings decided to treat their father at home, but because of the ongoing blockade measures, they were unable to work, and because of insufficient income, they struggled to provide medicine and oxygen every day.
She told CNN: “I feel helpless, angry and angry, and it feels like being tied.” “My father is ill and we cannot afford what he needs to survive.”
The government vowed to help
On Thursday, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra expressed strong protests against the public and announced emergency measures to increase production and oxygen supply for medical purposes, and declared the gas a strategic health resource.
Vizkara said at a press conference: “We are providing resources to the Ministry of Health to purchase the amount of oxygen determined by our technicians to treat patients nationwide.” “We will allocate 84 million soles to the Ministry of Health ( $24.5 million) to purchase the oxygen supply needed nationwide.”
Vizcarra also recognized the problem of distribution and the shortage of the cylinder itself. He said: “The decree also provides for the transfer of 11 million soles to establish an oxygen network and maintain the oxygen plant in Lima and its regions.”
Peru is one of the first countries in the Americas to take strict preventive coronavirus measures, such as dining at home, curfews and closing the border.
However, the locking measures have not been established. Many poor people in Peru have no choice but to venture outside their homes to work, food or financial transactions, causing congestion in markets, public transportation and external banks.
According to data from the Peruvian National Institute of Statistics and Information, Kristian Lopez Vargas, a Peruvian economist and assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said that more than 30% of families live in overcrowded environments Medium, while 72% of people work in the informal sector and can survive by going out to make money every day.
“[Peru] There are both advantages and some disadvantages that we have seen in other countries in Latin America. “Marcos Espinal, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Infectious Diseases and Healthy Environment Determinants.
Espinar said this included underinvestment, and Peru’s history of spending on public health was less than 6% of GDP, despite recent efforts to devote more resources to the sector. According to World Bank data, the country’s public health expenditure in 2017 accounted for 3.165% of GDP.
Espinar said that Peru has fewer than two beds per 1,000 people, which is not enough, but it is not clear what caused the oxygen shortage. He said: “It is difficult to give you the answer.” “In the final analysis, there may be several factors.”
The head of Lima-based Oxígenoy Derivados, Javier Gallardo, said that clearly hypoxia is of paramount importance and the situation is getting worse.
He said: “Because coronavirus patients need a lot of oxygen to treat, the demand in hospitals and clinics has increased by four to five times.” Gallardo told CNN that the shortage is affecting the cylinders and oxygen itself. He said: “Unfortunately, our inventory is exhausted.” The company is working hard to maintain supply to patients with coronavirus and other patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis.
He said that despite demand, Gallardo’s company did not raise prices, unlike sellers on the black market.
Galardo said that the source of the black market oxygen was a “mystery”, but he had talked to customers who said that the cylinders that previously charged 1,200 soles ($353) were now replaced with 5,000 soles ($1470) each. He said: “This is too much.” Patients with severe or severe coronavirus can use a bottle of oxygen every 6-8 hours or 4 hours a day.
Leonid Lecca, executive director of the non-governmental organization, said: “The demand for oxygen is very important. There has been no plan to solve this problem since the pandemic. We need to consider that the current demand is higher than normal. About 50%.” Partners of the Peruvian Ministry of Health and lecturers at Harvard Medical School told CNN.
Community organization fundraiser buys oxygen
In response, communities across the country have been trying to provide oxygen.
In Iquitos, the capital of the Loreto region in the Amazon Basin, Father Miguel Furtes, the manager of the apostolic pastoral area of Iquitos, launched a fundraising campaign to help those in need. He said: “There are many patients there, there is no oxygen for them to use, the hospital collapsed, you can see desperate people everywhere on the street with oxygen tanks.”
Fuertes told CNN that his fundraising campaign has received 2 million soles ($588,544) so far, and he managed to use the money to buy three oxygen plants, but the area is still in short supply.
Father José Manuel Zamora Romero, the parish priest of Lambayeque in northern Peru, also launched a campaign called #ResisteLambayeque for people in need Provide food and oxygen tanks and medicines for people infected with the virus.
Zamora told CNN: “Hospitals do not have the capacity to treat these patients, there is no oxygen, and a lot of oxygen dies due to lack of oxygen.” “So far, we have purchased eight oxygen tanks, and they are so expensive. Their prices are not low At 4000 soles ($1175).”
Both of them told CNN that Zamora’s campaign was supported by celebrities such as national football player Paolo Guerrero, who donated an oxygen tank to Puicón to help her 60-year-old father receive treatment at home.
But another problem is to pay for the refill, that is, whether there is oxygen available. Puicón said: “We need to fill up the fuel tank every day, and because of the lock-up reason, we can’t work these days and can’t afford the cost.” He needs to pay 170 soles (50 US dollars) for the filling fee. “Oxygen is sold out almost everywhere, and prices keep rising.”
Galado, an oxygen distribution company, said the main problem was not to make more medical oxygen, but the shortage of gas cylinders. He said that usually people will immediately return the empty bottles to refill, but in view of the current shortage, many patients will insist on using them as a preventive measure. Gallardo said: “We should gradually build a safer and more efficient oxygen supply system.”
But someone like Puicón now needs to provide the oxygen cylinders that she donated to help. She said: “Every day we call a place, another place, we try to find money.” “This is impossible.”