Costa Rica Will Have Its First Compassionate City:
    The Canton of Cartago

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    With the aim of ensuring that each person with advanced disease, high dependency or who is at the end of their life, receives comprehensive, compassionate and quality care, the first compassionate canton of Costa Rica was launched this Friday: Cartago con Vos, Compassionate City. The activity took place in the Sessions Hall of the Municipal Council of Cartago, within the framework of the International Palliative Care Day, which is commemorated on the second Saturday of October each year.

    This important project is led from the technical and health point of view by the Partir con Dignidad Foundation, it is sponsored by Coopenae with the support of the Municipality of Cartago and the advice of the Spanish New Health Foundation. The initiative applies a palliative care model successfully implemented in 15 cities in Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Colombia. It is based on compassion, seeking to create and strengthen a community united by the vocation to care.

    It is a comprehensive proposal -recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO)- and is based on the attitude of each person towards the other and towards themselves, where the inhabitants of a Compassionate City understand the importance of caring for and accompanying community members when they are at the end of their lives. “Compassionate Carthage is the beginning of a project that seeks to inspire the best of human beings, their humanity. It seeks to give birth to fighting beings and their families who day after day practice, in a sincere and selfless way, the art of caring”, said Dr. Ernesto Picado, creator of the Partir con Dignidad Foundation, in his message. “We seek, he added, that the entire community unite with love and without fear of death around each family and offer their help and accompany their neighbors”.

    Cartago will thus be the first canton in North, Central America and the Caribbean to become a Compassionate City. It will be a fundamental step to transform Costa Rica into the first compassionate nation in the world, which stands in solidarity with people with terminal illnesses, especially those living in poverty and extreme poverty.

    An enthusiastic commitment

    “In the canton of Cartago we want solidarity to be a pillar of our idiosyncrasy, that we Carthaginians distinguish ourselves by that mercy towards our neighbor. We are part of the Age-Friendly Cities strategy and we are one of the few cantons that have centers for the elderly in all districts. Both aspects were the ideal platform for the pilot project of a Compassionate City. It is an honor, but also an earned merit that the canton of Cartago is the spearhead of this project and that it expands from here so that Costa Rica is a compassionate country”. Mario Redondo, mayor of Cartago.

    “As part of the Social Responsibility strategy, Coopenae manages a thematic axis that is to encourage activities related to the care economy, understanding that it is a need of today’s society and that we want to promote through the solidarity economy, the development of initiatives that address these needs. Cartago con Vos is aligned with our principles regarding commitment to the community, equality and equity because at the end of our lives we should be treated with the same dignity as throughout our lives”. Otto Peraza, manager of Organizational Development of Coopenae.

    “Our dream, shared by the organizations represented here and many others, seeks to support families so that in the enormous challenge of caring for a loved one, they do not do so alone at home or without training. We want to bring accompaniment and dignity to those who in their last days require a helping hand”. Angie Arce, president of the Partir con Dignidad Foundation.

    “This international methodology responds to one of the great challenges of modern societies: to create programs that address the loneliness, fragility and dependency that afflict many older adults. Cartago con Vos, Compassionate City has been possible thanks to the support of the Partir con Dignidad Foundation, with the support of Coopenae and the Municipality of Cartago. A city that decides to be compassionate is because compassion already dwells in its essence. It is now about giving it visibility and transmitting it to society”. Silvia Librada, New Health Foundation.

    Cartago: A priority canton

    Made up of 11 districts, Cartago is among the five cantons with the greatest needs for palliative care, according to the study “Palliative care needs in Costa Rica”, by doctors Ernesto Picado, Flavia Solórzano and Manuel Suárez. The investigation places San José (1896) in the first place; Alajuela (1177); Homeless (862); Goicoechea (697), and Cartago (641).

    At the same time, Cartago has enormous strengths such as having a highly committed palliative care network, which has stood out for the success of similar initiatives. In this context, the Municipal Program for the Elderly Person operates; there are 18 day centers that care for some 700 elderly people and the Max Peralta Hospital provides care aimed at this population with programs for oncology patients, those with chronic disease in the terminal phase and chronic pain.

    A diagnosis made by the project indicates that the population of the province of Cartago as of June 2022 is 547,691 inhabitants, and in the canton of Cartago, it is 166,204. 10.4% are over 65 years old and up to 34.3% have some type of disability. The percentage of inhabitants with care needs in the canton of Cartago is 7.08% and the number of people eligible for care is 662.

    Project in progress

    With the financial support of Coopenae, the Fundación Partir con Dignidad, the Municipality of Cartago, Simbiótica Arquitectura and Artesanos de Emociones started the first stages of Cartago con Vos, the previous April Compassionate City. A diagnosis of the canton and a guide manual for the development of the project were prepared.

    From the launch on October 7th, a 10-month phase begins in which awareness and training activities will be carried out in the different districts for the activation of care networks and support around people with advanced illness and their families. For January 2023, the beginning of the community intervention with the care of cases is projected, estimating between 600 and 800 people the population likely to receive care in the canton.

    In the launch activity of Cartago with you, Compassionate City was attended by the mayor of Cartago, Mario Redondo; the mayor and deputy mayor of Oreamuno, Erick Jiménez and Miguel Mora, respectively; Dr. Krisia Díaz, director of the Maximiliano Peralta Hospital; representatives of public institutions such as the Ministry of Health; as well as representatives of Coopenae and various Carthaginian organizations.

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