Peru declares national health emergency over spike in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases


9th July 2023 – (Lima) The Peruvian government declared a 90-day national health emergency on Saturday due to an “unusual increase” in cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder where the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The country has recorded a total of 165 cases and four deaths from the syndrome.

The decree, published in the official gazette El Peruano, outlines an action plan with a budget of 12.12 million soles (3.3 million U.S. dollars) to improve patient care in health facilities, reinforce case control, and prepare informative material for the population and health personnel. Measures include the acquisition of intravenous immunoglobulin and human albumin, specialized diagnosis of the biological agents associated with the syndrome, and assisted air transport for patients in emergency or critical condition.

At least 18 of the country’s 24 departments have reported at least one case of the syndrome this year alone. The unusual spike in cases over a short period of time has “negatively affected the continuity of health services, as there are not enough strategic resources to respond to the volume and complexity of the cases in health facilities,” warns the decree.

Health Minister Cesar Vasquez had requested the emergency declaration on Wednesday before the Council of Ministers, noting that “if the number of cases increases, there could be a lack of immunoglobulin.” Guillain-Barre syndrome can cause paralysis and respiratory failure, and while most people recover, some experience long-term damage to their nervous system.