Peruvian police announced Wednesday that dismantled a circuit that is accused of charging around € 18,000 per bed in the public hospital intensive care unit for critically ill patients with COVID-19, further aggravating the health care situation in one of the world’s worst hit countries by the new coronavirus pandemic.
Nine people were arrested in police raids yesterday morning, including public hospital administrators Guillermo Almenara Irigoyen, according to Corruption Prosecutor Reynaldo Avia.
The fraud was uncovered when a brother of a COVID-19 patient complained to the police that they were asking for 82,000 soles (17,626 euros) to find a bed in an intensive care unit (ICU). explained Mr. Avia.
The Minister of Health of the transitional government of Peru, Oscar Ugarte, stressed that there will be immediate consequences for this case. “It simply came to our notice then. “It is not possible to bargain for human lives,” he said.
Pandemic-linked corruption scandals have already swept Peru’s political landscape. The outrage over the vaccination scandal of top politicians and government officials has led to the resignations of the Minister of Health and the Minister of Foreign Affairs this year.
The hospital involved in the new scandal belongs to EsSalud, Peru’s national social security system; it is obliged to offer free treatment. For the admission to its ICU, which has a capacity of 80 beds, the waiting list is long.
At the height of the pandemic, patients and their relatives were forced to pay large sums for treatment in private clinics, as the public health system was unable to manage the crisis. ICU beds have since grown to almost 3,000 nationwide, from a few hundred in March 2020, but demand remains huge in the Andean state.
Up to this stage, Peru mourns over 195,000 deaths from COVID-19 out of a total of some 2.1 million SARS-CoV-2 cases. The Latin American country has the highest proportion of deaths in the world.