COSTA RICA NEWS – The lack of medicines in Costa Rica’s public hospitals and clinics is nothing new. Often patients at health centres operated by the a Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (CCSS) have had to resort to other bodies for mediation, like the Constitutional Court to be able to get treatment.

Maickol Aragon Montoya was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia three months ago.
Maickol Aragon Montoya fue diagnosticado con leucemia desde hace tres meses.

More often than not in the last two years, CCSS or Caja patients have had to file “recursos amparo” – writ of appeals –  to force the public health officials to provide treatment . Fortunately, there is no need to hire a lawyer to file a Constitutional Court appeal, in fact it can be as simple as a hand written account of the facts.

For example in July 17, 2012, a resident of the Desamparados had to obtain Court order to have the local EBAIS – public health clinic – located in San Rafael Abajo de Desamparados to have his four year old son get a booster shot.

Other examples date back over a decade of Court filings, like the woman who in 2004 suffered a stroke and require hospitalization for eleven days at the Calderón Guardia hospital. The woman stated in her Court filing that on release she was given her patient records and a prescription for several medications to manage her ischemic brain injury, but was not given any medications, only being told by doctors to keep taking baby aspirin. She won her appeal.

Today, ten years later, 21 year old Maickol Aragon Montoya, is facing the same situation, forced to remedy his situation with a Court appeal to obtain medication for acute promyelocytic leukemia.

The Court ordered on September 16 the Caja to dispense ATRAX to allow him to live.

Defending the workings of the Caja is Albin Chaves, director of Pharmacotherapy, saying that, “first off the patient with the appeal received his treatment and as with any disease if there is a treatment drug required, it may not be possible to be used because of the complications of the disease.”

Chaves added that acute promyelocytic leukemia is rare and the number of patients in the country are between 25 and 30. “It is at medical judgement,” says Chaves.

According to Constitutional Court records, between January and August 2014, there have been 1.487 health matters filed with the Court, including “recursos amparo” and “habeas corpus”, of which 965 went in favour of the appellant.

Appeals involving surgeries lead the list (825), followed by health care (200) and related to drugs (162).


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