Monday 10th October 2022.

October 10, 2022

Chiriquí has felt the ravages of Julia, the category 1 hurricane that advanced through the Caribbean. Already in the afternoon it had dropped to the category of tropical storm At least 35 people have been evacuated “for prevention” in the Tierras Altas district, reported the National Civil Protection Service (Sinaproc) , which maintains constant monitoring of rivers and streams, due to heavy rains. The evacuees are now in a shelter set up at the Paso Ancho school, where there are already some 200 people. This Sunday at noon it was reported that Julia ceased to be a hurricane and became a tropical storm. It is expected that its intensity will decrease at night when it finishes crossing Nicaragua. Javier Pitti, mayor of Tierras Altas, stressed that they evacuated the town of Bambito , since there were landslides that left this area of ​​the district incommunicado. In addition, the Chiriquí Viejo river threatened to overflow its banks. He also reported that there are 200 hectares of isolated coffee and agricultural farms. “Right now Cerro Punta is isolated from Volcán, due to a landslide that closed the road at the height of Nueva Suiza. At the moment, there are no fatalities, but we continue to evacuate the population, ”he said. “The situation in Tierras Altas is quite critical and what worries us is that it continues to rain and landslides are being reported throughout the district. There are people incommunicado at various points where we have not been able to reach, ”he said. Several landslides were also reported in the Renacimiento district. In David, a tree fell on the road, on Calle Quinta, but no injuries were reported. In Veraguas, the Cañazas River remained at its maximum level, preventing the passage of vehicles, and the San Pablo River had already overflowed. There is a risk that the same thing would happen in the Playita, Varadero and Quebro rivers. Likewise, it was reported that the passage to the Barú volcano was cut off in the Los Llanos area due to the overflow of the Bruja creek. In addition, the basic school of Cerro Punta was affected by the ingress of water The President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, visited the Emergency Operations Center of the province of Los Santos and said that the climatic situation due to Hurricane Julia is being monitored. Sinaproc also reached the community of Boca del Monte, in the district of Marañón, where residents are kept incommunicado due to the flooding of the Caracol ravine, due to the overflow of the San Pablo River. As a precaution, the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) prohibited the departure of all small vessels and pleasure yachts from 6:00 pm on Friday, October 7. The Ministry of Education suspended classes in public and private schools on Monday, October 10.

The Ministry of Education (Meduca) announced this Saturday the suspension of classes for this Monday, October 10 throughout the country due to the heavy rains that will be generated by Hurricane Julia -which moves through the Caribbean- The measure is for official and private schools, indicated the Minister of Education, Maruja Gorday de Villalobos.

Every year, the Ministry of Social Development (Mides) makes multi million disbursements for conditional cash transfer programs, but at the moment there is no technical evaluation of the results of this social aid, in terms of eradicating poverty. The data from that entity specifies that in the last two years, that is, 2021 and 2022, amounts of about $448 million were allocated for the payment of the 120 to 65, Red de Oportunidades and Ángel Guardian programs. For example, last year $224 million was awarded and this year is expected to close with the same figure. In fact, from January to September 2022, some $168 million had been disbursed, but to this must be added an additional $56 million, which corresponded to the last quarter (October, November and December). In total, the beneficiaries of these three programs are 191 thousand people. During the support of her budget for 2023, the Minister of Social Development, María Inés Castillo, stressed that for the next year they will require $229 million for the programs, but the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) recommended $220.1 million. According to Castillo, work is being done to update the beneficiaries and a national registry was launched to find out who receives the subsidies, since this allows a better understanding of the profile of the beneficiary and their vulnerabilities. In other words, they went from paper files to digital records. In her appearance before the Budget Committee of the National Assembly , the minister acknowledged that after several decades of the implementation of these programs, the results have not been measured and there are no technical reports to support the disbursements. In this context, she explained that 30,300 beneficiaries were surveyed to find out the impact of the programs on their lives. It would be the first time that a “true evaluation” of this social assistance has been made. The results of the survey will supposedly be released this month. Precisely, one of the main claims of various sectors of the country is that the continuity of these programs must be evaluated, since they are not sustainable over time. In the opinion of Juan Gabriel González, former president of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede), these programs must be analyzed; otherwise, a dependent society would be created.

The Ministry of Health (Minsa), through the National Pharmacovigilance Center, alerted the country’s health professionals and the general population of the risks of using drugs that combine codeine and ibuprofen. The Minsa reported that the warning is given as part of the follow-up to the alerts and informative notes issued by international regulatory bodies on medicines. The Panamanian authorities emphasize that there are no commercial products registered in the country that contain the combination of codeine and ibuprofen as an active ingredient. In a statement, the Minsa outlines the review carried out by the European Committee for the Evaluation of Risks in Pharmacovigilance, about cases of renal, gastrointestinal and metabolic toxicity, some with fatal outcome, in association with situations of drug abuse and dependence. This, associated with the use of medications that contain a combination of codeine and ibuprofen. The Minsa highlights that to date the National Pharmacovigilance Center has not received suspicions of adverse reactions of gastrointestinal perforations, gastrointestinal bleeding, severe anemia, renal failure, renal tubular acidosis and severe hypokalaemia after prolonged use of the combination in doses higher than those recommended, in patients who have developed dependence on codeine. The authorities urge health professionals to take into account the warning that is made, although this previously mentioned the combination (ibuprofen-codeine) is not registered in Panama.

After this weekend the Executive team and the three alliances participating in the dialogue for Panama agreed to ask the United Nations Organization (UN), the University of Panama and the Panamanian Episcopal Conference to become possible facilitators of a second phase of this dialogue, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, reiterated the conditions to join this process. In a statement, the Chamber states that before the new call for dialogue, the private sector stresses that to be part of this effort “it has to take place within the framework of respect, with a suitable mediator, who helps define a methodology that allows representativeness and equitable conditions to legitimate actors who pursue real objectives”. In addition, it states that any dialogue must have the necessary technical information that allows reaching consensus with sustenance and respecting the constitutional rights of all citizens. “Without these conditions, it would be an unconstructive show that does not add and, rather, subtracts,” says the statement signed by the president of the union, Marcela Galindo De Obarrio. She adds that to the extent that private companies can carry out their entrepreneurial activities without excessive burdens or regulations from the State, they will be able to create jobs, which will consequently boost consumption, and will cause the generation of new jobs. On the night of last Friday, October 7, meeting at the Technological University of Panama, representatives of the Executive and the People’s Alliance for Life, the Organized People’s Alliance and the Eastern Chirican Bastion, agreed to present to the Catholic Church, current facilitator, to initiate the steps to request as possible mediators the Panamanian Episcopal Conference, the University of Panama (School of Social Dialogue and Advocacy of university students) and the United Nations Organization (UN). The private sector did not participate in these first two transition meetings that seek to enter a second phase of the dialogue in which other sectors of society would participate.

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