A Cuban medical brigade went into Italy to help in that country’s worst moment. ANSA photo.
Welcome the Cuban doctors and the Russian vaccine
by Polo Ciudadano
The high rate of infections, with a positivity rate ranging from 30 to 40 percent, the huge number of people hospitalized and the number of people who died in the COVID-19 pandemic, show the Panamanian health system incapable to adequately confront the crisis.
The reasons why the epidemic has gotten out of control in Panama are multiple, but the systematic attacks on the public health system by governments of the last 40 years, very focused on making private medicine a profitable business, stand out.
Signs that the crisis already existed before COVID-19 include the disappearance of the Health Committees, the Community Health Centers, public hospitals invaded by nosocomial infections, the públic systems’ outsourcing of operations and the lack of specialists (evidence of monopolistic practices in the professions). These among other things.
At this critical moment in the pandemic, Cuba’s offer for its medical professionals to collaborate with Panama’s Ministry of Health is very timely and pertinent. It would help to control the infection’s spread. It is commendable that, after so many mistakes, the Panamanian government is finally considering the arrival of Cuban doctors to help the Panamanian people out of this health crisis.
In terms of public health, Cuba has done better than many stronger economic and military powers. In the context of the current pandemic, the Cuban health system has not only successfully controlled the disease in their country, but their professionals have traveled to collaborate with other nations, including Italy when it was having its worst moment.
Polo Ciudadano rejects the interference of the United States government through it Nation Security Advisor, who has threatened Panama to prevent us from bringing in doctors from Cuba. On Monday National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien will be in Panama. We ask: What has the administration of Donald Trump done to help Panama in the midst of this pandemic? Nothing. He has done nothing – not even to help his own people, which is the country with the highest number of infections and deaths at the moment. Instead of threatening us, the United States should learn from Cuba. And we demand that the Cortizo administration act for the first time to put national interest and sovereignty first.
Bringing in Cuban medical professionals is just one of many other measures that must be taken. Let’s end the Cortizo administration’s irresponsible delays – in appointing health personnel, including Panamanian doctors who are unemployed; in providing adequate equipment for personnel on the front line; in restructuring of the health system to end the monopolies of specialists who see medicine as a business and not an essential human right.
Polo Ciudadano also demands from the government of Laurentino Cortizo an immediate agreement with Russia to bring the vaccine against COVID-19 to Panama. We don’t want any more deaths. An agreement with Russia is urgent because other options, such as the Oxford vaccine, which will be produced in Mexico and Argentina, are projected to perhaps arrive in the second half of 2021. Plus, sufficient quantities are not guaranteed for our entire population. Meanwhile, the Russian vaccine is already available.
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