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Keith Woolford

Special Report on Corruption in Panama's Health Care System (and Sidebar re Helping the Domestic Pets)

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Transparency International: Panama's health care is the most corrupt

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29% of Panamanians paid bribes at a public hospital in the country in 2016, making health care the public service in Panama with the highest level of corruption, according to a study published by Transparency International (TI).

"When services are ineffective and they do not work, there are spaces for corruption," Olga de Obaldía, a representative of the association in Panama, told a press conference on Monday.

The activist explained that many people pay bribes in public hospitals in Panama to avoid queuing in the emergency room, to get a bed in a room, to make an appointment with a specialist or to buy medicine.

"There is a whole internal network to advise that the drugs have arrived, because whoever gets to the window first gets the medicine," said De Obaldía.

After sanitation, the basic public services where Panamanians paid the most bribes are, by order, schools (26%), police (20%), identity documents (18%), water, health and electrical services (16%) and courts (11%), he said.

The TI study also shows that 57% of the 1,000 people who were surveyed in the country stated that the Panamanian government is not fighting corruption with determination (compared to 53% of the regional average) and that 69% feel socially obliged to report an act of corruption, a figure even to the regional average.

De Obaldía said that the main solution is to strengthen controls within the institutions and get officials to report illegal acts without fear of retaliation, a practice known as whistle-blowing.

"Any person who does his work well in public institutions remains demoralized by the person who does it wrong. There is no way to solve it if you do not have people who can help clean the institution as such," he said.

http://www.panamatoday.com/special-report/ti-panamas-health-care-most-corrupt-5460

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This is the first I've heard of this, and it's horrifying. Not only are the public hospitals overcrowded, inefficient, and frequently out of medications; now we learn of the necessity to pay bribes to get any attention at all. All the more reason not to live here without health insurance that will get you into a private hospital if need be.

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That's really depressing, but a form of it goes on at the private hospitals too, even if (or maybe because) you have insurance.  If a bill seems high, contest it.

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Well consider the folks at the very bottom of the pecking order....the Ngobe who do not have any insurance and are barely feeding the family.  What kind of care do they get?  They suffer.  Many of us who have lived here for nearly a decade care for one or more of these families when they need help, a birthday or Christmas party.  The burden is substantial and constant but we realize they have zero options but to ask for help. The family we are most attached to had their father in critical health in the ICU of the Regional hospital.  Finally the hospital told them to take him home.  They hauled him home and nursed him until he died .  Meanwhile they started to dig his grave in his backyard..imagine that.  We helped pay for the hospital and the wood box. Same thing happened with their daughter hit by a car.  They carried her home with forced discharge and nursed her themselves.  She recovered ( brain damage).  Another 2 yr old child in that family we helped bury last year.  In January another needs reconstructive surgery to his knee ( failed previous surgery and he's now a cripple) ; the child is retarded as well.  Long list.  Keeps us humble and thankful for what we have. I

Edited by Brundageba
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Bless you for caring and your efforts to help, Brundagega. None of us can do everything. I do the same for dogs and cats that need help. Every one one of us "privileged" people living in Panama can do something to help the people or the animals. Sadly, too many are either blind to the problems or they don't give a crap and are too involved in their gossip sessions and group functions. I know people in the Boquete area who are absolute champions--and you are among that number. Thank you again for your efforts, whether for human or animals.

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Yes.  Well sometimes it's hard to break out from the clutch.  Folks tend to group together and stay in that groove.  Language is another issue esp when it comes to a relationship with Spanish speakers. To care for the poor, the sick and the critters that can not fend for themselves allows us to receive their love in return.....and that's the real gift.  We are the very lucky ones Dottie.  If we had stayed in the USA I doubt we would have had the opportunity. ....we'd be staying in our rut.    Surf...eat...sleep...repeat...etc.  We were pretty isolated and selfish and I admit it.

Edited by Brundageba
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Exactly. When I was in the US, I donated to the SPCA but I had no idea of the real needs. Suffering and mistreatment of animals is worldwide, certainly not unique to Panama. We who give hands-on personal experience with helping, whether people or animals, we ourselves are the ones who receive the most meaningful gift. 

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Yes.  A bit off topic but on helping those that need it :

I was hopeful that Javier and Magaly would have gotten more support on their Go-Fund-Me campaign.  To be the go-to local dog pound for 33 rescue dogs  and care for them is noble To have them inside their house at night  when it's stormy is beyond belief.  That's some serious dedication. They need help to create a nice little kennel for these stray dogs until the dogs are adopted.  They are special people.  Here's the link on that.  You can read their story there.

https://www.gofundme.com/helpanimalsboquete

Edited by Brundageba

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Blessings to Javier and Magaly.  They are doing a wonderful job, giving from their hearts. I wish I could contribute financially to them, but I have everything I can do with my own 18 dogs, the clinics, and the other dogs in the Volcan area that need my help. Many people in this area say I am "the best vet" in the entire area, even though I'm not a vet. People often bring their sick or injured animals to me, and I can usually help them. Never in my previous life would I have dreamed my life would turn out this way, but I am grateful for it.

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4 hours ago, Brundageba said:

Yes.  A bit off topic but on helping those that need it :

I was hopeful that Javier and Magaly would have gotten more support on their Go-Fund-Me campaign.  To be the go-to local dog pound for 33 rescue dogs  and care for them is noble To have them inside their house at night  when it's stormy is beyond belief.  That's some serious dedication. They need help to create a nice little kennel for these stray dogs until the dogs are adopted.  They are special people.  Here's the link on that.  You can read their story there.

https://www.gofundme.com/helpanimalsboquete

Everyone is quick to admire and thank Javier and Magaly for the work they do, so I couldn't help but notice that the fundraiser for them, held this afternoon at the Amigos de Animales facility, was only modestly attended. There were some wonderful prizes in the bingo games (restaurant certificates, an eco tour, overnight stays at Finca Lerida and in Volcan, etc.), and the lasagna lunch was excellent. Nancy Halbert and Nairn Kennedy donated all the proceeds from the lunch, even the cost of food, to Javier and Magaly's dog camp.

Charities work hard to sponsor events such as this rather than depend solely on donations. The least we can do to support them is to attend these fundraisers. They're fun, and they're a great way to meet your neighbors. Make time for them; put them on your calendar when they are announced.

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