Many of these deaths could surely have been prevented
The current crisis exposes the weak points of the Peruvian health system. Two doctors died in Iquitos, a large Peruvian city, because their hospital did not have enough oxygen. One asks why the state had not installed an oxygen generator over the past two months. The responsible officials only reacted once it was too late. End of March Apurímac’s Health Authority signed a contract with Diospi Suyana outlining the following: should state hospitals come to their capacity limits the missionary hospital will take on their patients. In this case the government will cover any resulting costs. Since everyone in Peru knows that the State promises a lot but fulfils hardly any of the promises made, we agreed that the local government should pay for the first 50 patients in advance.
But despite all pledges and many holy oaths the money has not hit our accounts in the past two months. Here is a brief chronological summary of what happened:
- The authority’s directors promised: “Sign the contract and we will transfer the money immediately!” – Okay, we signed, press photos were taken and heartfelt wishes expressed. But a few days later there was no sign of the money.
- We call the authority: “We still need one set of application documents!” Within 24 hours we had handed the documents to the official. Nothing happened.
- A week later they called us: “We need a detailed overview of costs for each patient!” – We handed this in within hours, but, again, nothing happened.
- Several days later: “We would like to inspect your hospital once again!” After an amount of time had elapsed the commission did come and were highly satisfied with what they saw. – But no money was transferred.
- Another week later they called us: “We need an extra contract before we can pay the funds!” – Lawyers from both sides started work on and compiled the necessary document. This was signed in a special ceremony on 30th April in Abancay. Again, as we are used to by now, photos, congratulations and the well-done-pats on the back, but, still no money came.
- Two days ago I personally went to the governor and handed him our official complaint. The head of state promised that the money would come soon. 30 minutes later an official of the Health Ministry called: “We need one further contract!” In this way two months have passed.
The State’s incompetence and incredibility are the factors that block any type of preparations. Added to this comes the falsehood of official reports. The Government in Lima speaks of the plateau that Peru has reached, but looking at the Johns Hopkins’ map anyone can immediately see that the number of infected persons is sky-rocketing. Since yesterday 11,000 new cases were added to the total tally.
Of course we mourn for our 36 doctoral colleagues. But we bewail the precarious circumstances that have led to the death of many people: firstly, the extreme corruption; secondly, an unbelievable sloppiness; thirdly, little sign of foresighted action; fourthly, the State’s unreliability, and, and, and….
But one thing must also be mentioned at this juncture. If the Peruvian institutions worked, then our missionary hospital would hardly have a right to exist. The State’s inability makes private initiatives like Diospi Suyana extremely necessary. /KDJ