Dr Bernardo Peredo Videa
MSc Biodiversity, Conservation and Management, Matriculated 2003
DPhil School of Geography and the Environment, Graduated 2011
I am the Political Officer and Trade Commissioner at the Embassy of Canada in Bolivia. We are supporting efforts against COVID-19 through a project to assist the Blood Bank of La Paz in terms of plasma collection and the provision of personal protective equipment for frontline workers preventing violence against women and children that are being affected by a strict lockdown. This initiative also works with a small women’s enterprise (who were victims of human trafficking) in terms of income generation given the significant economic challenges produced by the pandemic. The Embassy of Canada in Peru and Bolivia just approved funding for this project through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). The CFLI is a program designed to support small-scale, high-impact projects in developing countries, and it is directed at projects conceived and designed by local partners.
About the Project
The project aims to strengthen support systems for victims of violence to prevent COVID-19 transmission among service providers in the cities of La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia. The project is implemented by the NGO Samaritan’s Purse Bolivia. The pandemic is increasing rapidly throughout the country, and recently in these cities, affecting directly frontline workers as well as vulnerable groups. This resulted in the saturation of a fragile public health system as hospitals are overwhelmed and several doctors, health workers and police officers have been widely infected. Also, cases of violence against women and children are increasing since the beginning of quarantine and lockdown measures in March, 2020.
The project provides personal protective equipment (PPE), training and establishment of protocols for officials working at the Ombudsman for Children and Youth, municipal legal counselling services responsible for cases of violence, temporary lodging facilities, shelter services, and facilities of the Task Force Against Violence, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. It supports 500 frontline workers of these institutions in order to effectively respond to cases of domestic violence and avoid infection with COVID-19.
The project supports the creation of job opportunities for women who have survived human trafficking, through a social start-up model called Sutisana, which was founded in 2010 as a freedom business with the goal to fight human trafficking. Women working in this SME will manufacture protection equipment allowing this organization to increase the number of products and services they offer in order to generate income and employment for more women who are survivors of human trafficking and prostitution, amidst an employment and economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Through this project, Sutisana will manufacture 1770 PPE for 500 frontline workers responding to situations of domestic violence.
The project also funds a component to support the Blood Bank in La Paz, which is the leading and only entity responsible for plasma collection for COVID-19 treatment in this region. Besides the provision of PPE and establishment of protocols for frontline workers, the project will also provide 6 ELISA kits to be delivered to the Blood Bank in La Paz to detect the presence of IgG, IgM and IgA antibodies to continue collecting convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Through this project, the Blood Bank in La Paz will receive six 96-determination ELISA kits to run blood screening of hyperimmune convalescent plasma donors to support at least 420 donors screened, and approximately 1,260 people will be benefited from treatment for COVID-19. Given the overwhelmed public system, with all hospitals reaching its capacity and no ICU beds available, plasma donation is currently becoming one of the main avenues in La Paz to support COVID-19 patients in critical condition.