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The voice of the flag in Panama

Dr. Ivonne Torres Atencio reviews the development and consolidation of the Ciencia group in Panama, always with the aim of sharing the importance and the need to support scientific research

Six years after its birth as a voice of protest against budget cuts to scientific development, the Science Movement in Panama has grown and developed into, most recently, an institution that will continue with the goal of spreading science and its importance throughout the world.

Scientists from various disciplines and public and private institutions met after the news of the reduction of funds from the National Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (SENAT) in 2016 and unified their message: allocating funds for scientific projects is not an expenditure, but rather it is in the interest of the country, because thanks to the generation of knowledge it is possible to make better decisions for state policies .

It was a spontaneous, organic and necessary reaction, to appreciate the contribution of scientific research to society, recalls Dr. Yvonne Torres Atensio, President of the Science Foundation of Panama.

“The group of scientists that started the movement benefited, at that time, from the calls and programs of the Senate, and seeing that the institution suffered from cuts, we joined our voices to announce everything that is done in scientific matters in Panama and why it is necessary,” asserts Torres-Atensio.

For this reason, the movement organized a peaceful demonstration which it called the March of Science, which was built into a calendar every year, except for the pause imposed by the pandemic.

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Soon more activities were being added in the interest of science, the group was creating a unified structure and more people wanted to support the initiative. The scientific group currently has about 280 people, with specialists from multiple disciplines across the country, such as environmental sciences, biomedical sciences, social sciences, humanities and many more.

2023 forecast

For the coming year, already with a formed institution, Science in Panama plans to take advantage, for example, that many events of great interest to the scientific field will be held in Panama, to give all that can be published to the role and importance of science.

Such is the case of Our Ocean in March or the mid-year Sustainability Research and Innovation (SRI) conference.

Our Ocean is a space for dialogue between heads of state, the private sector, civil society, and academic institutions to discuss how to save marine resources; While SRI is the world’s largest multidisciplinary gathering of the global sustainability community bringing together more than 2,000 world leaders in sustainability research, government and civil society experts, as well as innovative finance and organisations.

“These are global events in which Panama will play an important role and Science in Panama is working on a series of approaches that influence decision-making in public policies (…) We are already in talks to be able to have this important exchange with the scientific community that will be visiting us and so that more people from accessing these events,” says Dr. Torres Atensio, who is also director of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Panama School of Medicine.

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“These are global events in which Panama will play an important role, and Science in Panama is working on a series of approaches that influence decision-making in public policies”IVONNE TORRES ATTENTION
President of the Science Foundation of Panama

They will continue, as Torres Atensio continues, the group’s already traditional events, such as the celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, on February 11; Scientific march second half of April. and an end-of-year ceremony or meeting, where, among other things, the work of people who have worked for the advancement of local science is acknowledged. In the last edition of the ceremony, the Secretary of the Senate, Eduardo Ortega Pare, and former secretaries Jorge Mota, Julio Escobar and Victor Sánchez Urrutia were honored.

Thanks to his work at Senacyt, a budget for doctoral and postgraduate scholarships was created, programs such as repatriation of talent, a large part of the new generations of scientists working in Panama today were trained 10 or 12 years ago thanks to this work and today these professionals have a positive impact on the development of science Domestic, the doctor explains, at the same time she emphasizes the importance of the budgets allocated to scientific institutions to send more young people to prepare abroad, to acquire the knowledge necessary to advance research or to improve existing infrastructures.

Dr. Torres Atensio concludes: “Thanks to the management that was carried out in the field of science, the training of scientists, the establishment of study centers and the provision of resources, we were able to face a crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. We were able to manage in the best way amid our shortcomings and the impact was reduced to Minimum, lives were lost, but many were saved.”

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