VIDA closed out 2019 having made 24 shipments carrying over $22 million in aid. Many of these shipments represent a new partnership being led by Peru’s Ministry of Health who is spearheading an effort to upgrade and increase the number of beds available in Peru's hospital system. To that end, VIDA sent over 300 beds in 2019 along with 135 gurneys and 250 exam tables. Of course, this was in addition to the hundreds of pallets of medical supplies and hospital equipment that VIDA sends every year to Peru. However, the success of 2019 was quickly faded when confronted with COVID-19 outbreak, the latest in a series of disasters to beset Peru and expose and test the fragile healthcare system.
As of May 5, 2020 Peru has registered over 55,000 positive COVID-19 cases and over 1,500 deaths. While Peru is hailed as the most responsive country in Latin America to the crisis due to its testing and lockdown, sadly Peru only trails Brazil in the number of casualties and fatalities. In spite of Peru’s increase in per capita GDP over the past 30 years, the fragility of that growth is being displayed among the 60% of the population that still works in the informal ecinimy and who lack access to healthcare. The young single impoverished mothers are perhaps the most vulnerable. Most have lost their meager daily wages due to the lockdown. As a result, they and their children have no shelter and our facing hunger. The plight of these women is demonstrated by the 170,000 homeless now living on the streets in Lima and the mass exodus from Lima to rural areas. Peruvians are sleeping in the streets waiting for a solution. Many of the clusters are near airports and squares in makeshift shelters they lack the basic hygiene to prevent the virus. Also, crowding is frequent in the campsites, so it is hard to comply with social isolation measures.
Faced with this crisis, caravans of thousands of people are trekking on the highways carrying their little ones and all of their belongings trying to make it back to their remote towns of the Andes, Amazon and desert coast where they can find shelter and food. Sadly, plagued by extreme poverty and devastating natural disasters, these towns lack the resources to assist them when they arrive and the travelers are often the source of new outbreaks in these remote regions. All of these issues raise the need to help build the healthcare infrastructure. To that end, VIDA has shipped 6 containers carrying 200 plus ICU hospital beds, 50 plus stretchers, exam tables along with hundreds of walkers and thousands of crutches as well as thousands of boxes of medical supplies including PPE and respiratory equipment and supplies to combat the virus.
A major cost in this project is the ocean freight from Oakland to Callao. GlobalGiving donors play an important role in making these shipments possible. We hope you can join us in our mission to bring aid to Peru’s most vulnerable communities.