Crisis of Dengue Fever in Piura: Peru’s Worst Health Emergency and High Mortality Rate

2023-06-16 15:36:22

Near the border with Ecuador, the desert region of Piura is facing its worst health crisis since the pandemic, which has lifted Peru to the top of the countries with the highest mortality. In question, this time, the mosquito transmitter of dengue fever, attracted by the heavy rains caused by Hurricane Yaku which hit the region in March.

Health Minister Rosa Gutierrez resigned on Thursday evening after criticism from parliament over the handling of the crisis.

Since the reappearance of dengue fever in the country in 1990, this is the “strongest” epidemic wave, underlines Valerie Paz Soldan, an expert in infectious diseases from Cayetano Heredia University. The infection “has become uncontrollable”, she warns, saying she fears that the virus is circulating “all year round” in the country due to climate change and the El Niño weather phenomenon, which causes heavy rains.

“Little baby”

In terms of dengue fever, Peru has the second highest mortality rate in Latin America, after Brazil, up 365% compared to the average of the last five years, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). ).

The coastal area of ​​the department of Piura is home to the majority of the region’s 1.8 million inhabitants. In Catacaos, an agricultural district, dengue is ravaging homes with tin roofs.

In one, Maria Francisca Sosa, 45, watches over her 93-year-old father. Slumped in a bed, an unfolded mosquito net by his side, the old man barely mutters when his daughter passes her hand over his forehead.

Since the virus struck him down, we have had to help him as if he were a “little baby, to feed him (…), buy him diapers”, testifies this woman who lives with six other members of her family. family.

One after the other, all were affected by the virus. Faced with overcrowding in health centres, they had to go into debt to be able to call on a private doctor and buy medicine.

Influx of sick people

Hurricane Yaku brought heavy rains and flooding. Drinking water networks and sewers have been damaged, as well as mango and rice crops. The water was stored in open tanks, which multiplied, despite the fumigation operations, the breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

In Catacaos, the football field is still waterlogged two months after the passage of the hurricane. Not far away, Teolinda Silva, 45, takes care of her son Gabriel, 27, bedridden and feverish. “Unfortunately I don’t have the money to take him to the hospital and have him seen. Right now I’m going through a tough time, there’s no work, there’s nothing” , she laments.

This weekend, little FerMaria Ancajima was buried in Catacaos. Her condition suddenly worsened and she died shortly after being transferred to Lima. She was ten years old.

Sullana hospital, north of Catacaos, is overwhelmed by the influx of patients. “We have a huge deficit in human resources, our first level of attention has collapsed and we lack equipment and medicines,” recognizes Luis Alfredo Espinoza Venegas, 44, one of the hospital center managers.

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