Peru is the second country in the region most affected by COVID-19 and has the fifth highest number of cases in the world, with 375,961 confirmed cases and 17,843 deaths, including 68 children and adolescents, as of 24 July. With a population of 32 million and only 1,527 ICU beds nationwide, the health system has struggled to cope with the pandemic.
In response to the pandemic, on 16 March the Government of Peru declared a national state of emergency, extended to 7 September, closed borders, and imposed a mandatory national quarantine, extended to 30 June. These actions have been complemented by various health regulations, the “I Learn at Home” public education strategy, social protection measures and an economic stimulus package.
However, in its June Global Economic Prospects report, the World Bank forecast a 12 per cent GDP contraction in 2020, and a 7 per cent recovery in 2021 for Peru. This increases the risks faced by the most vulnerable, especially women and girls, families living in poverty whose livelihoods have been impacted by the quarantine, indigenous communities with limited access to health services, and migrants and displaced people in overcrowded living conditions with limited local support networks. The harsh economic impact and some discontent with the response led to a cabinet change on 15 July, including new Health, Social Protection,Housing and Sanitation,Production, and Labour ministers.
UNICEF’s response strategy has focused on helping ensure children’s rights are being fulfilled. Sincethe startof the emergency, some of the main results include:
• Information and messages on COVID-19 posted on social media have had a reach of 16,559,476, and 420,295 engagements.
• Webinar promoting behavior changes among ECD service providers with the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion,obtaining 16,800 video views.
• Delivery of 4,540 hygiene kits benefitting 20,587 people, among them 16,866 people in 63 indigenous communities in the Amazon, 3,581 children and adolescents in residential care facilities and juvenile deprivation of liberty centres, and 140 Venezuelan migrants and refugees. In total, 5,601 girls and 6,714 boys benefitted from hygiene kits.
• COVID-19 prevention messages have been disseminated in indigenous communities in the Amazon, providing 16,866 people access to culturally relevant content in their native Shipibo-Konibo language.
• 145,628 children continue to access home-based education thanks to UNICEF pedagogic support to teachers and content developers.
• Six videos with socioemotional support and tips for families as a part of the “I Learn at Home” public education strategy, published on the Ministry of Education’s YouTube channel, have been viewed 7,286 times.
• High-level technical assistance to the education and sanitation sectors resulted in the approval of a school reopening protocol to ensure safea return.
• Guidelines to ensure safe reopening of primary health services benefitted 134 women and 660 children (320 girls, 340 boys) who accessed two health establishments in Loreto and Huancavelica.
• Participation in interagency studies about the socioeconomic impact of COVID on children and migrants, in designing the UNS socioeconomic response to COVID, and generation of evidence on monetary child poverty and on the impact of the State's intervention.