Epidemiologists are calling it the worst dengue outbreak in Peru's recent history. The country registered more than 129,000 cases in 21 of the country's regions, according to data released by the Ministry of Health late last week.
This figure is close to triple the amount recorded last year during the same period, when there were 49,000 cases, according to the local newspaper El Comercio. The same is true for the number of deaths, which increased from 62 in June 2022 to 191 in May 2023.
Authorities reported Sunday that the Army and the Police joined efforts to combat the mosquito that transmits the virus, which causes headaches, fever and in some cases, death.
Both law enforcement agencies are working with cleaning and fumigation teams in the most affected regions, such as Lambayeque. The campaign focuses on getting money to the affected regions as well as helping to raise awareness, so that citizens know how to avoid getting bit.
More than 20 members of the First Infantry Brigade of the Peruvian Armed Forces were trained by Diresa Tumbes (Regional Health Directorate of Tumbes) personnel in the handling of thermonebulizers, to contribute to the fumigation and vector control work being carried out against dengue.
#MinsaInforma | Más de 20 miembros de la Primera Brigada de Infantería del @EjercitoPeru fueron capacitados por personal de la Diresa #Tumbes en el manejo de termonebulizadores, para contribuir en las labores de fumigación y control vectorial que se realiza frente al #dengue. pic.twitter.com/igRRm9w8L8
— Ministerio de Salud (@Minsa_Peru) June 10, 2023
"Of the 20 regions affected by dengue, 15 of them are already in decline," Health Minister Rosa Gutierrez said Sunday. "Now we only have five regions where we are redoubling our efforts: Tumbes, Lambayeque, Piura, Ica and La Libertad."
The government has indicated that the meteorological phenomenon called El Niño is the main culprit. This natural phenomenon, which occurs every two to seven years, is characterized by warm surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The heavy rains it causes favor the reproduction of mosquitoes, which need to lay their eggs near water. In addition, heat and humidity are two ideal conditions for Aedes aegypti to reproduce.
President Dina Boluarte declared a state of emergency in 18 regions of the country due to the heavy rainfall expected in the coming months due to the advent of El Niño.
Minister in trouble
When Minister Rosa Gutiérrez was asked if she would resign from her position, she said "I am a woman who stands firm and that precision is far from me," according to TVPerú.
Gutiérrez has been asked to step down by a congressman and after appearing before the Congressional Health Committee she may have to defend her administration before the full legislature.
One of the most criticized measures of her agenda, which stood as a symbol of her mismanagement for those who criticize her, was a video shared by the ministry's social networks in which she tried to raise awareness by using a Shakira song.
Dengue kills, let's kill the mosquito!
It has the name of a good mosquito, it CLEARLY carries dengue inside.
¡El dengue mata, matemos al zancudo! ❌🦟
Tiene nombre de mosquito bueno, CLARA-MENTE lleva el dengue dentro.
— Ministerio de Salud (@Minsa_Peru) February 12, 2023
The president has been criticized for her management of the crisis. She and her administration currently have a 77% 'disapproval' rating from Peruvians, according to an Ipsos-Peru poll published by local media.
Although the survey did not specifically ask about the dengue virus, it did reveal that 30% of those who disapprove of her base their response on the lack of support for those affected by the rainfall. It is the fourth most cited reason.