Wednesday 29th March 2023.

March 29, 2023


Kidney patients blocked, on Tuesday morning, all the sections of the Transístmica road, in front of the hospital complex of the Social Security Fund (CSS).

The protesters said that they are requesting that the tender carried out by the CSS be declared void for “the hemodialysis service and supply of hemodialysis kits, as well as the design, construction and qualification of hemodialysis units, according to technical specifications” for a price of reference of $180.8 million. The only bidder for the public act was the Renal Consortium, which presented a proposal of $168.8 million.

However, the protesters said they are completely unaware of the companies that make up the consortium. “No to the tender that there is, we don’t want it, there are many shady things!” reads one of the banners carried by the patients and whose protest began at around 7:00 am, causing a large traffic jam. .

The eternal promise of governments in recent years is the construction of a new National Cancer Institute (ION) , since the current structure was too small to accommodate cancer patients in the country.

In the current government administration, the tender for the project was suspended and the authorities of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) are analyzing the financial viability of this project.

The need for this work was raised for the first time in 2007, but 16 years later, it still has not materialized. The closest progress this project has had on two occasions has been bidding attempts.

The government of Laurentino Cortizo began the process, but on January 11, the Minsa decided to cancel the tender for the construction of the new ION, whose amount was $434.8 million.

At that time, the Minsa reported that it was necessary to make changes to the scope and specifications of the work, related to the land and a new location for the hospital. This entailed drawing up a new specification and annulling the public act that had been called.

Now it is added that the Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre, on March 22 in the Budget Commission of the National Assembly stated that “really” they do not have a date to build this new hospital.

He maintained that the President of the Republic gave instructions to address the issue, so he must meet with the Minister of Economy and Finance to discuss the financial viability of this project. The meeting was scheduled for Monday, but it did not materialize.

In fact, in the cabinet session on March 20, President Cortizo listened to his ministers and other heads of entities, who supported his plans for this and next year.

Sucre spoke of 48 unforgivable works, including the construction of the new Oncologico headquarters and other hospitals such as Metetí, in Darién, and Bugaba, in Chiriquí.

The National Assembly dusted off the bill 625 that adopts the jurisdiction of extinction of domain of illicit assets in Panama. In recent days, some specific events seem to have changed the fortunes of this proposal that reached the Legislature in April 2021.

Last Thursday, 23 March, at the Justo Arosemena palace, the seat of the Assembly, a meeting was held to discuss the project. The Minister of Public Security, Juan Pino ; the attorney general, in charge, Javier Caraballo ; authorities of the Supreme Court of Justice, and deputies members of the Government, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Commission, where the document rests.

“This tool will serve against organized crime. We are still in time to make a law to safeguard the democracy and governability of our Panama”, said Minister Pino, who presented the proposal before the Assembly.

Pino was surrounded that day by several pro-government deputies: Leandro Ávila, president of the Government Commission; Crispiano Adames, president of the Legislative; Kayra Harding, vice president, and Julio Mendoza, all members of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

Bill 625 started the year on the wrong foot. On January 2, the day a new legislative period began and the presidents of the Executive and the Legislature gave speeches from the Justo Arosemena palace, a clash was observed between representatives of two bodies over this matter. That day Adames asked Pino to withdraw the project. However, Pino never gave up.

In its attempt to ground down the initiative, the Legislature organized citizen forums on the figure, in which the exhibitors highlighted the inconveniences of a law of this type. The dispute even reached the United States ambassador in Panama, Mari Carmen Aponte, who spoke in favor of the extinction of domain. “Panama, at some point, has to join the countries in the area where they have these tools, where they can pursue illicit money. The United States urges the Assembly to follow its due process, have the debates that are necessary but, after all, approve this law, ”she said on one occasion. Her words caused a storm among the sectors that oppose the project. She was accused of wanting to meddle in the affairs of Panama.

Former President of the Republic Martín Torrijos (2004-2009) questioned the leadership of the Executive and assured that this lack of leadership has given power to the National Assembly.

“The Assembly has gained power to the extent that there has been a lack of leadership from the Executive. (…) There has been no leadership from the Executive to impose or carry out an agenda for the country. And to the extent that this power vacuum exists, the Assembly, together with bad interests, together with the interests of money and business, has taken a leading role, ”said the former ruler in the Infoanalysis program that is broadcast by Omega Stereo .

Both the Executive and the Legislative are led by two of their co-partisans: Laurentino Cortizo and Crispiano Adames, respectively.

Martín Torrijos, 59-year-old economist, son of Omar Torrijos, founder of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and who ruled the country de facto between 1968 and 1981, returned to the public agenda after he expressed his intentions to return to the Presidency of the Republic with the general elections of 2024. But, he will not do it for his party, the PRD. Among the alternatives that he has on the table is doing so through the platform of the collective Popular Party (PP) that was his ally when he governed Panama.

The extension granted by the National Directorate of Pharmacy and Drugs of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) for the non-prescription sale of anti-migraine drugs with the active ingredient called ergotamine, which are marketed under names such as avamigran, migra dorixin, migratam and migretil, expires this Friday March 31st.

Medications for migraine required a prescription since September 22, 2022, after it was established in Executive Decree 115 of August 16, 2022 , which regulates Law 1 of January 10, 2001, on medications, however, the Minsa granted an extension for its entry into force in order to allow pharmacies to exhaust the existence of these medications.

However, patients on social networks during these months have reported that pharmacies were already requiring medical prescriptions to dispense migraine medications.

Decree 115 in its article 387 established that pharmaceutical establishments that import, distribute, re-export or market medicines or finished products that contain precursor substances for medical use in humans, which are listed in the 1988 Convention against trafficking in psychotropic and narcotic drugs, They must comply with the regulations for controlled substances.

The decision that anti-migraine drugs with the active principle called ergotamine, which  require a prescription, due to the fact that Panama in 1994 agreed to sign the United Nations Convention against the Illicit Traffic of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, which lists substances that can be used for this purpose.

This medium consulted the Department of Pharmacy and Drugs of the Minsa if they would grant a new extension for the entry into force of decree 115,  there was no response.

As of this date, the use of a mask as a protective measure against covid-19 , in public passenger transport (selective and collective) and for those who handle food, is not mandatory.

This is provided by the Ministry of Health (Minsa) in Executive Decree 21 of March 27 , published in the Official Gazette. The document states that the measure is taken due to a significant decrease in the mortality and hospitalization indicators related to the virus.

Similarly, the document establishes that the mandatory use of the mask is maintained for health facilities, public and private, where care is provided to patients.

Meanwhile, the decree orders the lifting of the obligation to have the complete vaccination schedule with the three doses against covid-19, or the presentation of a covid-19 test (antigen or PCR) with a negative result, every seven days from Any person who requests or has been issued by the health authority the certificate of good health (white card) or the certificate of health training (green card).

Likewise, it is stated that people who request or have been issued this type of certificate must comply with the biosafety and sanitary guidelines contained in current regulations.


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