Peruvian archdiocese raises $175,000 for oxygen tanks

BalonesOxigeno ArzobispadoCusco 150820 Oxygen tanks in Cusco. | Archdiocese of Cusco.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Peru has been among the hardest hit countries in the world, ranking sixth in the total number of reported cases according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine.

The country's health system has been hard pressed to properly treat patients, and oxygen has been one of the main shortages, especially in the rural areas.

To fill the gap, the Archdiocese of Cusco has raised approximately $175,000 through the "Cusco Breathes" campaign to purchase oxygen tanks which could help hundreds of COVID-19 patients.

Also participating in the campaign are CONREDE (National Council of Deans of Professional Schools) and the Cusco Region COVID-19 Operations Command.

The "Cusco Breathes" campaign recently announced that they have already made arrangements for the delivery of the first 100 tanks.
A committee will be created "to determine the distribution of the oxygen cylinders to be acquired, based on the principles of equity and efficiency," working with the regional board of health, hospitals, and government agencies.

The Archdiocese of Cusco assured that all the money "will be used for the purchase of oxygen cylinders that the region so badly needs to care for people who are suffering from COVID-19."

The archdiocese appealed for additional donations from companies, institutions and the general public to the "Cusco Breathes" campaign, which will close August 30.

The Cusco region is one of the hardest hit areas in the country, with 17,683 positive cases and 430 deaths, according to the latest report from the Cusco Regional Board of Health.

Elsewhere, fundraising efforts have been hampered by fraud.

Fr. Omar Sánchez Portillo, the secretary general of Cáritas in Lurín, Peru, reported that he was scammed while attempting to purchase oxygen tanks for coronavirus patients in critical condition.

Following established financial procedures, the priest paid more than $10,000 for the tanks from funds they had raised, but when it came time for delivery, the company cut off contact and its website disappeared.

The priest asked prayers for the swindlers and lamented the death of a patient who was waiting on oxygen.

Police are investigating.

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