Panamanian President Will Visit Costa Rica to Learn about Health Experience
By Dialogo July 17, 2009SAN JOSE, 14 July 2009 (AFP) - The new president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, will visit Costa Rica on Wednesday to meet with President Oscar Arias and to learn about the experience of the public health services in trying to reduce patients’ wait times, the two governments announced on Tuesday. “Tomorrow, Wednesday 15 July, the president of the republic, Dr. Óscar Arias Sánchez, will host his Panamanian counterpart, President Ricardo Martinelli,” on his first foreign trip since taking office on 1 June, according to a statement issued by the Costa Rican president’s office. The meeting of the two leaders “will address an agenda of bilateral affairs,” the statement added. Martinelli will also dedicate his visit to getting to know “details of the Costa Rican experience with an automated appointment system” for users of the public health system, “which has achieved optimization of outpatient consultation and pharmacy services and elective surgery in that country,” the Panamanian government announced. The president will be accompanied by the Minister of Health, Franklin Vergara, and the Secretary of Innovation, Eduardo Jaén, according to the government statement. “This trip is the beginning of a series of consultations and visits that the administration team is planning with the aim of learning about the experiences of various models of care that have been successful in other countries,” the statement added. As president-elect before taking office, Martinelli visited Arias on 22 May, on which occasion they discussed forging closer ties in trade and tourism, among other areas. Both said then that they were in agreement on the expansion of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement, in effect since November 2008, to include products such as refined oil and insurance. The balance of trade between the two countries, which has increased notably in recent years, is favorable to Costa Rica, which sold 411 million dollars’ worth of its products and imported 242 million dollars’ worth of goods in 2008.