San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Health matters

Costa Rican health minister: Auto accidents are a public health issue

Costa Rica’s health minister called auto accidents a public health priority on Monday during the presentation of the country’s new National Health Plan. Health Minister Dr. Fernando Llorca’s words were part of what he said was a more “holistic” approach to public health in Costa Rica.

“Historically, roadway safety has focused on automobiles as the problem. Ideally, the topic of roadway safety starts with the pedestrian, cyclists, people who can’t walk freely down the sidewalk. This is the new vision of roadway safety we want to promote in Costa Rica,” Llorca told The Tico Times.

Llorca gave the example of greater cooperation between the Roadway Safety Council (COSEVI), the Health Ministry and public and private insurers to create a more compete picture of the dangers facing motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The minister said that this information could be used to identify problem areas where preventative action could be taken.

“If we had a registry that went beyond a list of accidents and deaths involved we could identify areas for improvement and solutions,” he said. Llorca said that he was personally attending meetings with COSEVI.

According to figures from COSEVI, 359 people died in traffic accidents during 2014. The vast majority — 105 — were motorcyclists, followed by pedestrians (76). More than 100 people died in traffic accidents during the first quarter of 2015.

The more expansive view of public health included topics like gender, nondiscrimination in access to services, cultural understanding as well as a focus on the economic stability of the Costa Rican Social Security System and Health Ministry services.

The National Health Plan “Juan Guillermo Ortiz Guier” laid out five major areas that the Solís administration said it would prioritize, ranging from greater public participation in health care policy development, equal access to health services, promoting healthy lifestyles, environmental health, and climate change adaptation and risk management.

Vice President Ana Helena Chacón said that the average lifespan in Costa Rica, roughly 80 years old, according to the World Bank, surpassed that in the United States (more than 78). Despite the country’s longevity, Chacón said that there was still much to do to improve the country’s well-known public health system, especially when it came to access to health services for women and migrants.

“Public health is essential for development and democracy,” said President Luis Guillermo Solís during the plan’s presentation.

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In regards to “The National Health Plan” to reduce traffic accidents:
1. Get the Transit police to do their job and enforce the traffic laws. The only time I see them enforce the laws is when the infraction involves a non-Tico. They should leave their little shacks and get out on the street. Parking enforcement, except for gringos, is non-existant. In Heredia, for example, the parking police will issue a ticket for illegal parking (where there are yellow lines) only if they are parked illegally within a 3-4 block radius from a park. Once you are 5 blocks away from a park you can park illegally since that is too far for the police to walk. Going through red lights is considered okay since it is “only a suggestion” to stop.
2. Motos are not exempt from the traffic laws. They seem to think they are. If the transit police started issuing tickets to these offenders the government probably wouldn’t need to raise taxes. I have seen motos run red lights with the transit police sitting right there and they ignore the infractions. The other infractions they ignore is the motos cutting between cars and passing across double yellow lines into oncoming traffic.
3. Motor vehicles, especially taxis, do not have any regard for pedestrians. When pedestrians are in a crosswalk, as per the law, they have the right of way. Cars, when making a turn where pedestrians are crossing, consider the pedestrians as an impediment and come close to running them over if the pedestrian does not yield to the vehicle.
4. When are people going to be stopped for talking on the cell phone while driving? I have seen people talking on their phones while passing the police and nothing is done.
5. There are many benefits for enforcing the laws. Less traffic accidents (maybe many lives would be saved) and more revenue for the government. If more motos were stopped for infractions, in my estimation about 40% would not have licenses. This would get a lot of them off the road.

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Costa Rica’s health minister Fernando Llorca to the rescue. As part of a new plan, Llorca gave the example of greater cooperation between the Roadway Safety Council (COSEVI), the Health Ministry and public and private insurers to create a more compete picture of the dangers facing motorists. Wow, at least try to do your job.
According to Juan Guillermo Ortiz Guier, there are 5 major areas that the Solís administration said it would prioritize. One area is public input. I bet they wont be asking my opinion. I seriously doubt the Solis administration has any clue where to start. Juan thinks a good approach would be climate change adaptation and risk management. REALLY ? But Juan has even better ideas, he wants to spend money promoting healthy lifestyles and environmental health. Is that where they scam money through invisible carbon credits ?
Start here Fernando and Juan. The CAJA. Thousand of patients in fear of death for extended periods of time.
The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma. Oh yes, waiting a year for medical treatment will do that. This causes anxiety and depression. People are incarcerated for months by the CAJA which severely restricts a good support system of family and friends. Has anyone ever given any thought to helping the people who need it ? How many Ticos suffer PTSD. I know the CAJA caused me to have a psychological breakdown after laying in that bed for weeks, while the doctors lie to you every day. All I could see is stupidity and probable corruption and a total lack of business sense.
So President Solis, you really want to make some meaningful changes to help the people ? Send someone to talk to me. I wont blow smoke in the air like your health minister.

Robert Savage.

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Ken Morris

Good for him. It shouldn’t require the health minister to tell the transportation planners the obvious, but I’m afraid it does. The transportation planners rarely see beyond their own windshields, and thus only plan for cars and more cars.

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