The fight against tuberculosis and the benefits of lime in the capital of Peru

20,000 people live on Mount San Cosme, only half an hour from the city centre of Peru's capital. With more than 260 TB cases this part of the capital has the highest tuberculosis incidence for the whole of Peru. The situation worsens because many people living in this emblematic place work in one of the largest markets of Lima and are constantly in touch with other people and food, which helps in spreading the disease at an alarming rate.

The municipal council of la Victoria and the Ministry of Health are following up the situation through a monitoring programme for TB-infected people in Cerro San Cosme. This is to help stop the spread of TB. Still, this kind of programmes is hampered by overcrowding, lack of hygiene and other social factors.

That is why the Belgian Development Cooperation decided in 2012 to support a project of the district's mayor, 'Encala tu Calle' ('Whitewash your street'). The project whitewashed houses with lime. Since many houses remain unfinished they attract insects that carry bacteria which cause diseases.

Thanks to this intervention more than 450 homes were whitewashed and dozens of inhabitants could attend informative sessions about preventing tuberculosis and the antiseptic qualities of lime. Also the involvement of the neighbourhood committee was crucial, both for supplying the (wo)manpower needed for the intervention and for supporting the awareness activities of the project.

How does it work exactly?

Lime mixed with water is a disinfectant and kills microbes. In addition, houses are painted white, so the neighbourhood benefits too. It is preventing sickness and houses are nicer.