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Panama - Health Service
Diseases such as yellow fever, malaria and smallpox were quite rife in Panama for a while. With a concerted effort from the US, malaria has been brought under control and diseases such as yellow fever are now almost non-existent. In order to achieve this, many changes had to be made in the way that people live in this country. Poor sanitation and malnutrition were the problems that needed to be dealt with at first. By the year 2000, nearly 90% of the population had clean drinking water in their households. Vitamins are mainly distributed into areas where nutrition is considered to be still in poor shape. Nowadays, the main health issues in the country are heart disease, pneumonia and cancer.
Children are immunized for various diseases including diphtheria, polio, tetanus and measles, so problems with these types of illness are now unusual.
Hospitals in Panama
Larger cities in Panama offer good healthcare facilities. Many hospitals and clinics are new, having good and modern facilities. Most of the medical staff in Panama are trained in some other countries such as the US, so they are aware of all the latest developments and technologies in modern medicine. When compared with other countries, the standard of healthcare in this country is considered to be high.
The biggest hospital run by the Ministry of Health is the Hospital Santo Tomas, which is located in Panama City. The city also has a special children’s hospital that is publicly-run as well. Those residents of Panama City who are holders of social security can make use of the Hospital de Especialidades Pediatricas. Panama City also has the National Hospital, which is a private facility.
There are few more big hospitals in other areas such as the Hospital Amador Guerrero in Colon and the Hospital de Chepo in Chepo City. The city of David has a maternity hospital and a children’s hospital as well. Most rural areas have clinics that are run by the Ministry of Health, rather than private institutions. Private hospitals such as the Hospital Punta Pacifica have some of the best facilities in the country. This particular hospital is affiliated to Johns Hopkins, which is the one of the most prestigious hospitals in the United States. Several hospitals in the country have connections to US institutions, which ensures that they offer the best facilities and highly trained medical staff.
All health care facilities are available to people living or visiting the country. In general, no patients are rejected by hospitals if they do not have the proper insurance. Private health insurance is available for those who want to have it and there is a number of private health clinics available. Obtaining private health insurance in Panama is easy and it does not cost too much. Policies are cheaper than similar ones offered in countries such as the United States.
In order to get emergency medical care, it is enough to dial 911 if you are not capable of going to a doctor or a hospital. There is an ambulance service that can be sent out by this department, but the number of ambulances available is limited, so you amay need to wait for some time until the ambulance arrives. It also possible to subscribe to a private ambulance service, but these services do not operate in all areas of the country. Those who need counseling or any type of mental health care can be treated at the Ministry of Health-run National Psychiatric Hospital in Panama City. Some private hospitals will also offer counseling services.
All the information regarding the Ministry of Health can be found on the official website.
Vaccinations and health certificates
There are a number of recommended vaccinations for all those who are visiting Panama. All visitors should consult with their doctors a couple of months before travelling. There are some essential vaccinations that should be checked out with a doctor to determine if there are any further vaccinations that visitors of Panama might benefit from.
Routine vaccinations should also be current before visiting this country. These include chickenpox, polio, MMR, tetanus and influenza. Vaccine-preventable diseases include those for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Yellow Fever. There are also some instances of cholera and Dengue fever as well. Some of these diseases are almost eradicated in Panama, but there is still a risk, so it is smart to be cautious. Those who wish to work with animals such as bats are recommended to have a rabies vaccination as there is always the risk of being bitten while working.
Malaria is also a big risk in Panama, so visitors should take anti-malaria medication as a precaution. Some parts of the country do not suffer from it, such as the urban areas of Panama City and the Canal Zone. The more dangerous areas are those close to the borders of Colombia and Costa Rica. One solution to this problem is to take an anti-malaria medication, but it is also possible to be protected by simply wearing long sleeves and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites. Bites can also be prevented by using bednets to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes during the night. Preventing the bites is just as important as taking the medication as for some people the medication itself might not be enough. Symptoms of malaria include fever, sweats, headache, body aches, fatigue and nausea. These can take more than a week to appear after being bitten and if left untreated can lead to kidney failure, coma and even death.
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