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IDB approves $35 million for first phase of program to transform health sector in Panama

The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the approval of a $35 million loan to Panama to help finance the first of two phases of a program to improve the quality, efficiency, equity and sustainability of the health system.

The program includes providing a comprehensive package of health services, serving 450,000 of the poorest residents of the country, that will be delivered by different types of nongovernment organizations, including civil groups, religious organizations and cooperatives.

The design and implementation of the health services package will be carried out with the participation of the beneficiaries themselves, including indigenous communities.

Among the other components of the program will be the transformation of the Ministry of Health* to improve administrative and technological processes and human resources as well as its and ability to establish and carry out new policies and coordinate them with other agencies, such as the Social Security Institute.

The ministry will decentralize health services management by giving more responsibility to the regions, and management instruments and data systems will be decentralized in hospitals.

Among the health issues that will be addressed in the program are violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Upon completion of the first phase of the program, the IDB may provide a new loan to help finance the second phase. Local counterpart funds will be $15 million for the first phase.

The current IDB loan is for a 25-year term, with a 3.5-year grace period, at the variable annual interest rate, now 6.97 percent.

In lending operations earlier this year the IDB provided financing for health service programs in Chile, Nicaragua and Uruguay.

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