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China He surprised the world again when he built in a record time of thirteen days (February 2020) two hospitals duly equipped to treat 2,500 patients from COVID-19 in the city of Wuhan, epicenter of the pandemic.
The images of its construction went around the globe as an example of the power and commitment of the Chinese government to contain the virus. An example that, believe it or not, could also be replicated in Peru.
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This is how Carlos Herrera Descalzi, dean of the College of Engineers of Peru and a member of the interdisciplinary group of doctors and engineers who seeks to repeat this experience in our country with the help of the chinese government.
“The hospital we visualize would be equal to that of Wuhan, with the difference that, instead of going from the factory to Wuhan, I would go from the factory to Peru”Explains Herrera.
The Chinese government installed the hospital Houshenshan (god of fire), the most publicized of the two implemented in Wuhan, within ten days.
In the case of Peru, the chinese government estimates that it would take between 85 and 90 days, including its design, manufacture, transport from China and assembly in Peru.
And is that China will not build the hospital in our country, but will manufacture it on Asian soil in “form of a meccano or lego game”, That is, in parts and pieces that would be shipped by ship and assembled in Peru.
Ramón Araujo, director of the master’s degree in building and technology of the Higher Technical School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM), explains the construction technique as follows in an article in El País de España:
“They are prefabricated metal structures that are joined with screws. It is possible to raise one floor each day. You just have to place the modules (facades and blocks) that come fully assembled, with their windows and their facilities. They don’t go brick by brick. It’s the closest thing to riding a train car“, Explain.
Herrera points out that a prefabricated building dramatically speeds up construction times, compared to a civil work, which would take no less than two years to be executed in Peru, if we are lucky.
Hence the importance of adding hospital offerings through prefabricated buildings, as demonstrated by the Chinese experience.
OXYGEN FOR A THOUSAND BEDS
To this end, the working group made up of Herrera began conversations with a company of chinese infrastructure to define the conditions under which a project of this nature could be implemented in Peru.
According to the dean, it was initially thought of acquiring one of the two chinese hospitals prefabricated for Wuhan, but this scheme was changed for the manufacture of a new one, more in line with reality and Peruvian specifications.
“The risk was that we could find surprises, such as that we have the oxygen and the bed, but not how to get the oxygen to the bed, or that the system does not have enough support, as happened in Talara (where there were 15 deaths) because the machines fail or need maintenance”Explains Herrera.
Taking note of this, the state china He assured, in a meeting held on April 30, that he is capable of manufacturing a hospital adapted to national requirements.
That is, an infrastructure for a thousand patients with systems for medical compressed air, a vacuum network and, most importantly, high-flow oxygen of 60 liters per minute.
“What hospitals in Peru need most are high-flow equipment to care for patients who come with an oxygen saturation of less than 90% and prevent them from going to the ICU”, Points out Armando Rodríguez, representative of the Medical College of Peru.
In the opinion of the Peruvian and Chinese experts, a hospital of this nature will require an investment of US $ 50 million, excluding the supply of oxygen, which would have to be generated by an external cryogenic plant.
Hererra estimates that the execution of this project would take 150 days in total, including further discussions and the processing of permits.
“For now, it is important that public opinion is aware of this type of effort so that the Peruvian government considers it seriously and as a first step.”, He says.
The challenge that arises for Peru now is that India could also need this type of facilities, due to the health disaster that it has been experiencing due to the COVID-19, and that it is causing 360 thousand infections and almost 4 thousand deaths a day.
THE INDIA FACTOR
This week, the Indian government announced that it has ordered the habilitation and purchase of 551 oxygen plants to meet the needs of this drug in the population.
According to Itay Ingber, operations manager of the Israeli firm Macro Urbe Salud, this demand will cause the entire world production of oxygen plants “go to india”.
“India’s oxygen needs have reached an astronomical 13 million cubic meters per day. Trying to appease this crisis will mean massive purchases of equipment for this country, generating a reduction in its availability in the world.”Warns Víctor Zamora, who is the Minister of Health, in a tweet.
And that means bad news for Peru.
“India has 1,200 million inhabitants against 30 million in Peru. I think we can achieve something, but we must hurry with oxygen and (prefabricated) hospitals “Herrera notes.
The proposal to buy a prefabricated hospital in China is not new. It was carried out for the first time in March 2020 during the government of Martín Vizcarra.
Elizabeth Hinostroza, minister of health at the time, told this newspaper that she was in permanent contact with China to see the possibility of acquiring one of the two hospitals of Wuhan, taking advantage of the fact that “It is a hospital that can be moved because it is removable”.
The sites evaluated at that time were Cusco or Iquitos.
Armando Rodríguez suggests the implementation of prefabricated hospitals in Piura, Callao and Arequipa, where they will be very necessary in the face of the third wave of COVID-19, which could be more contagious and deadly than the second.
“For this case, only 300 or 500 beds would be required, due to the absence of personnel to handle the oxygen therapy equipment”, he points out.
Huoshenshan and Lioshenshan (god of thunder) hospitals were put into stand by in April 2020, after they discharged their last patients and the Chinese government eradicated the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan.
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