Country: Panama is officially the Republic of Panama. It is the southernmost country of Central America. It is bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital is Panama City. Spanish is the primary language, but English is widely spoken.
To access emergency services: Dial 103
Currency: United States Dollar (USD) and Panamanian Balboa (PAB)
Recommended immunizations and vaccines for travelers: Before traveling to Panama, ask your doctor what vaccines are recommended. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are excellent resources as well.
Insurance: Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures.
It is also worth ensuring your travel insurance will cover ambulances or transport either home or to more advanced medical facilities, if needed. Not all insurance covers emergency medical evacuation home or to a hospital in a major city, which may be the only way to receive medical attention in a serious emergency.
Source: International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers.
What to expect in a Panamanian hospital: Panama has a strong health care system and many hospitals are equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology. The larger cities have excellent facilities, including state hospitals and private facilities.
Private hospitals can be expensive, although you may be able to purchase private medical insurance to cover the costs. The public hospitals are overseen by the social security system and those that pay into the system are entitled to free health care, although the hospitals have a policy of not turning away those who need help.
Most of the medical staff speak English. Many doctors have studied and worked in English- speaking countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Doctors at some rural hospitals and clinics are less likely to speak fluent English, but will have a basic knowledge. In very remote areas you will need to travel a distance to the nearest hospital or clinic and you will be less likely to find English-speaking medical staff.
The hospitals in Panama can treat the vast majority of illnesses and injuries. It is unlikely that you will need to be taken to another country for medical treatment, but that is an option if you prefer it. It should be noted that your medical insurance in Panama is unlikely to cover you for transport to another country.
Contact your embassy/consulate: When in doubt, your country’s embassy is a good resource to turn to for medical assistance guidance.
JCI-accredited hospitals/clinics in Panama: To read about specific facilities that are JCI-accredited, visit the Hospital Search section.
Panama-specific helpful health resources:
Travel health notices: Visit the CDC or the WHO for up-to-date travel notices.