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Panama to improve health services in indigenous and rural areas

Project to more than double the number of people served by primary care networks with $50 million IDB loan

Panama will revamp its primary health care system and improve maternal, neonatal and chronic disease care with a loan of up to $50 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The project is expected to increase the number of people served by the country’s primary care network to 184,000 annually by 2016 from the current 78,000, and to improve quality of health services. This will contribute for a reduction in maternal and infant mortality rates as well as the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under the age of five in indigenous and rural communities.

The IDB loan will finance the redesign and establishment of health care networks, a payment and a performance-based system for health care providers as well as the introduction of new services aimed at child nutrition, reproductive health, and dental health. The project will help Panama to address the double burden of chronic and infectious diseases by supporting the acquisition of supplies for screenings to detect chronic disease risk factors and spot-test equipment; training to improve the management of chronic diseases and medications.

The IDB will also support measures to better connect the country’s primary and secondary levels of care, implementing integrated operations management systems that improve the resolution capacity of the health services and guarantee continuity and quality of care for the target populations. The Bank will finance the purchase of basic equipment, supplies, and materials for secondary care and computer services and equipment to build a system of patient registry.

The project is expected to increase the use of family planning services, the percentage of women receiving prenatal checkups from skilled personnel, and the percentage of children receiving a complete supplementation and immunization package. Moreover the project is also expected to lead to an increase laboratory services for the treatment of communicable diseases and non-communicable chronic diseases and in the number of women receiving institutional birth care.

 The loan is for 25 years with a grace and disbursement period of five years and a LIBOR-based interest rate. Local counterpart funds total $20 million.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.