Children with Leukemia Kept in Former Storage Room at EsSalud Hospital – Report

Children with leukemia at an EsSalud hospital in Peru’s southern city of Arequipa are jammed into a space that was previously a storage room, according to a report by daily La Republica.

The room at the Carlos Alberto Seguin hospital, which is part of the state EsSalud system, lacks ventilation, meaning that the room’s single light must be turned off at all times or else the heat becomes intolerable for the children. A child quoted by the newspaper said he didn’t want to go back to the hospital because “it’s hot.”

The former storage room has space for six children, although hospital authorities have managed to put 12 children in the room, the report said. Without privacy, the children witnessed the death of an eight-year-old girl who was a cancer patient in the room.

The room also lacks adequate restrooms and there is sewage right near its main entrance, according to the report.

A representative of the children’s mothers, Virginia Astorga, said that EsSalud had ordered the children to be relocated to another floor in the hospital. However,  the families refused because they would have been on the same ward as adult patients where the children would have been exposed to tuberculosis or pneumonia.

A representative for EsSalud said the hospital is working on a new pediatric center that will be ready in 2014.

EsSalud is the state health system which private and state payroll employees pay into, with a percentage also paid by the employer. It now also has a system whereby private individuals can opt into the system.  Understaffed, with usually long waits for outpatient appointments, much of the inpatient treatment is, however, generally good, especially in the Lima hospitals.

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