Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Our global community of volunteers work hard every day to bring you the world's underreported stories -- but we can't do it without your help. Support our editors, technology, and advocacy campaigns with a donation to Global Voices!

Donate now

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Peru: Freezing Temperatures in Puno Result in Children Deaths

While the front pages and headlines of the most important newspapers in Lima, Peru covering news about the 16 cases [es] of the H1N1 swine flu in the country, there is not much news about the 133 children who have died [es] due to the seasonal flu caused by the low temperatures in the southern part of the country, especially in the Puno region. Bloggers have started to notice this difference in coverage and have started to write about the subject.

León Huarancca Quichca does not trust the media or the government and writes [es]:

Hasta ahora la AH1N1 ha sido la gran noticia para los medios de comunicación pese a que aún no ha causado muerte alguna, mientras que la neumonía ya ha matado a 133 niños y niñas, y recién es una noticia minimizada para los medios de comunicación. Según dicen que el Perú crece a todo dar, pero hay niños muriendo de neumonía, personas contagiadas con TBC, y seguramente el presidente García fiel al a su estilo conminará a la gente que hagan donaciones

Up until now, the AH1N1 (virus) has been the big news for the media even though there has not been a single death (in Peru), while 133 children have died from pneumonia, and even then it is minor news for the media. Supposedly Peru is growing at a fast rate, but there are children dying of pneumonia, people infected with tuberculosis, and surely President (Alan) García will continue with his style by asking people to make donations.

El Paki [es] publishes a short analysis of the coverage provided by the local television station and criticizes the government:

Acabo de ver una nota en el noticiero vespertino de canal N sobre la gripe AH1N1, y los contagiados en el colegio Altair de la Molina. Una nota de 5 minutos, con transmisión en vivo. Lo que me recordó al post del Dr. Huerta, que al final de un concienzudo análisis del contenido del noticiero de canal 4 llega a esta conclusión:

Total de tiempo dedicado a la gripe AH1N1: 41 minutos.
Total de tiempo dedicado a la muerte de decenas de niños peruanos por el frío: UN SOLO MINUTO (en el noticiero del jueves)

Y lo que es peor, el ministerio de salud que publicita muy bien su estrategia de lucha contra la fiebre porcina, no tiene datos (mínimamente, no?) acerca del plan de lucha/prevención/tratamiento, de las consecuencias del friaje, que cada año, asola a la infancia de las zonas altoandinas.

I just saw a piece on the Channel N nightly news about the AH1N1 flu, and those infected at the Altair de la Molina school. It was a report that lasted 5 minutes, with a live broadcast. It reminded me of the blog post from Dr. Huerta [es], who after a thorough analysis of Channel 4′s news content arrived at the following conclusion:

Total amount of time dedicated to the AH1N1 flu virus: 41 minutes
Total amount of time dedicated to the death of dozens of Peruvian children because of the cold weather: ONLY ONE MINUTE (on the Thursday news broadcast)

And what is worse, the Health Minister who publicizes the strategy against the swine flu, does not have any information (minimal, no?) about the plan to fight/prevent/treat the consequences from the yearly cold spell that grips the children from high-altitude Andean regions.

With the annual low temperatures that affect the rural populations in southern Peru, many believe that the Health Minister and the local governments should have an adequate preparedness plan in order to prevent cases like this. The blog Caviar de Cianuro [es] is worried about this lack of response:

Lo que más rabia da es que recién comienza la ola de frío y muere gente (y al parecer traerá más víctimas). Más desazón da cuando el Gobierno comienza a actuar en el momento en el que las cifras de muertos por las heladas son alarmantes y para colmo utilizan la catástrofe para su proselitismo político. Si hay algo peor que el Gobierno Central es la forma como Hernán Fuentes, presidente regional de Puno, no se pronuncia ni se hace responsabe de alguna actividad para apasiguar el daño que dicha catástrofe ocasiona a su comunidad regional ¡Actúen de inmediato, pero actúen bien y ya!

What makes one even angrier is that the cold wave has just begun and people are dying (and apparently there will be more victims). It is even more unsettling when the government only begins to act when the numbers killed by the freeze become alarming and they use the disaster for political campaigning. If there is anything worse than the Central Government is the way that Hernán Fuentes, regional president of Puno, has neither made a statement, nor has taken responsibility for any activity for pacifying the damage affecting his regional community. Act now, but act correctly and do so now!

The same blogger is angry that this is a subject that needs to be written about yet again [es]:

Los medios tradicionales también merecen ser criticados puesto que no están cubriendo este tema debidamente ni lo ponen en la agenda pública ni están informando a la población sobre la importancia de tomar ciertas medidas para evitar que los niños tengan las enfermedades respiratorias derivadas de las heladas. ¿Cómo Alan García, Yehude Simon o cualquier autoridad les podría decia a los padres de esos niños que somos parte de un país? Francamente, da rabia volver a escribir sobre esto. Porque al final lo que más mata en este país, no son las enfermedades, es la indiferencia.

Traditional media also deserves to be criticized because they are not covering this issue properly, nor do they place the subject in the public agenda, nor are they informing the public about the importance of taking certain measures to prevent respiratory illnesses in children because of the freezes. How could (President) Alan García, (Prime Minister) Yehuda Simon or any authority tell the parents of those children that we are part of a country? Frankly, I hate to write about this again. Because in the end, what kills the most in this country, are not diseases, it is indifference.

However, there not all is indifference, Renato Cisneros and Jesús Véliz write about the support campaign [es] conducted by the Municipality of Barranco, a district of Lima.

Mientras en la capital aún hay brillo solar, y no nos abrigamos mucho. En Puno, muchas víctimas, en su mayoría niños, han fallecido por el exceso de frío… El distrito de Barranco, está organizando una campaña “Abriguemos Puno”… ¿CREES QUE HABRÁ UNA ÓPTIMA RESPUESTA DE LOS PERUANOS CON ESTA CAMPAÑA DE SOLIDARIDAD?…¿SOMOS SOLIDARIOS ENTRE PERUANOS?… Ya lo demostramos con nuestros vecinos del Sur, después de terremoto… ahora??

Meanwhile in the capital (Lima) the sun still shines brightly, we don't dress warmly. In Puno, there are many victims, mainly children who have died because of the excess cold… The Barranco district is organizing a campaign, “Let's Keep Puno Warm” … DO YOU THINK THAT THERE IS AN OPTIMUM ANSWER FROM PERUVIANS WITH THIS CAMPAIGN? … HOW DO WE SHOW SOLIDARITY AMONG PERUVIANS? .. We did the same with our neighbors in the south after the earthquake, and now?

The question has generated a lot of responses, among which include apparent skepticism about such actions, but is thought to be good to help. The bad experiences with donations ending up in the wrong hands have created a bad precedent that will need to be overcome.

Finally, Francisco Canaza of Apuntes Peruanos [es] provides another perspective to understand the problem:

El frío es el gatillo para infecciones que proliferan en los pobladores con desnutrición. Puno, Lampa, Azángaro y Carabaya muestran altos niveles de desnutrición infantil. … De los 435 centros de salud ubicados en la región Puno, pocos son los que cuentan con las condiciones apropiadas para atender casos de neumonía extendidos por toda la población. Es más, muchos de estos centros de salud son de Primer Nivel, es decir puestos de salud con limitaciones y con un promedio de dos profesionales.

Consideremos esto. El 64.3% del presupuesto nacional es gasto corriente. la mayoría de regiones recibe menos del 1% del presupuesto nacional. Puno recibe como región el 0.97% del presupuesto nacional, con lo que tiene que hacerse cargo de las funciones ya descentralizadas. La solución no es la vacuna contra la gripe sino que un adecuado sistema de apoyo social brinde sus frutos. Y que el Estado se encuentre preparado a atender las infecciones clásicas, pues las IRA’s son una constante en la época de frío.

The cold is the trigger for the infections that spred among malnourished people. Puno, Lampa, Azángaro and Carabaya all show high levels of child malnutrition. … Of the 435 health centers located in the Puno region, there are few that have the appropriate conditions to attend to cases of pneumonia widespread throughout the population. In addition, many of these health facilities are considered First Level, meaning health posts with limitations and only averaging two health professionals.

Consider this. 64.3% of the national budget is currently being spent. Most regions received less than 1% of the national budget. The Puno region receives 0.97% of the national budget, which it has to pay for the functions already decentralized. The solution is not the flu shot, but an adequate social support system that provides results. And for the State to prepared to meet the common infections because acute respiratory infections are constant during the cold season.

In addition to the above posts recommended, the article about the freezing temperatures [es] that appeared in the La República newspaper provides real accounts from Peruvians living in the region. There is also an interesting conversation taking place in the Peru Forums [es].

  • http://www.bigsound.org/portnoy/ Portnoy

    Indeed, some countries put too much attention on HINI while there are more deadly tragedies happening. So is Taiwan.

  • Laura Chirinos

    Bueno pues, no soy aprista ni mucho menos es toy de parte de ningun gopbierno para mi tooooooodos son igules prometen y despues se tiran la plata y se mandan a volar a otros paises despues de gobernar.
    Lo quee s muy cierto es que hay que hacer algo como por ejemplo mandar frazadas ropas dinero pero a entidades que sean serias o a personas honestas que uno mismo conozca hay que actuar y dejar de echar culpas sin hacer nada.
    Estoy tratando de mandar por ejemplo ropas zapatos especiales para nieve etc, a la Cruz Roja de PUno si a la de Puno porque si mando a la de Lima correran por muchas manos y al final no llega a los que neceistan enton mando directamente a la Cruz ROja de Puno no vaya a ser que pase lo que pasó con la toneladas de cosas enviadas para el terremoto de Pisco que se estancaron en el puerto y tooooooodo se echo a perder y nunca llego a su destino ( hasta para esto son negligentes)…
    Entonces pues hermanos peruanos apouyemosnos pero sepamos como y donde apoyar con mucho cuidado buscar contactos buenos contactos y mandar lo que se tenga , es todo .

  • Jebe

    I am trying to find more info on the tragic death of these 250 children (as reported by the bbc)… http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8146995.stm does anybody know if these children were vaccinated

  • http://americaninlima.com Barbara Drake

    I’ve also blogged on this topic (in English) over the last few weeks and have spread the word on Twitter about the crisis of children dying from cold in the puna.

    What especially troubles me is Peru’s refusal to take responsibility for mitigating these annual cold deaths. My first blog post focused on lack of response from Peru’s Red Cross:
    http://americaninlima.com/2009/07/16/update-child-deaths-peru/

    Around the world, in developed and developing countries, the Red Cross or Red Crescent is on the scene when there is a disaster, but you won’t find that level of response in Peru. Why? Peru’s Red Cross is a privately owned business that does not operate according to International RC standards. Without a strong, functioning national Red Cross in Peru, it is very difficult to coordinate long-term and immediate disaster plans.

    Another point: I’ve received about 10 emails from people abroad (in the US) who are desperate to help the people in the Andes, but many worry that their donations won’t reach the people. Yes, there is widespread distrust of relief efforts in Peru. The crisis has also prompted some NGOs to post comments on my site claiming that they will gladly accept donations — again, I don’t know how reliable these groups are, so I can’t recommend them to readers.

    As a blogger, I feel caught in the middle. I’m raising awareness about a humanitarian crisis but when well-intentioned readers come forward and say they want to make a difference, I am at a loss to assist them.
    http://americaninlima.com/2009/07/18/andean-children-cold/

  • Pingback: Global Voices Online » Peru: Deaths Due to Cold Temperatures Continue in Puno

  • Pingback: Cold Temperatures Continue in Puno « storypress

  • Pingback: O Peru cicho « Wojtek Walczak: anty-blog

  • Patricia

    Me gustaria, hacer llegar donaciones para Los ninos de puno pero no se x donde comenzar…planeo viajar con mi esposo el proximo ano. Si pueden darme algun tel de Cruz Roja de puno o como hacer llegar donaciones. Gracias

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site