Curtí

Overview

Curtí is about 67 miles east of Panama City and Global Brigades began working with community members in 2015. A typical home in Curtí is made of concrete bricks. There is a multi-grade primary school that offers up to 6th grade. For secondary education, children must travel 10 minutes by bus to the town of Tortí. The nearest health facility is also in Tortí, which means community members must wait and pay $1 to travel by bus each time they attend the clinic. Most homes in Curtí are connected to a gravity-fed aqueduct, but it is in need of improvements and a chlorination system. Approximately 25% of homes in Curtí have adequate toilets or latrines. Community members have access to credit through an established and thriving community bank which will support continued investment in local businesses and home improvement projects. People in Curtí are primarily dedicated to agriculture, small storefronts and the sale of artisanal crafts. Through Global Brigades, Curtí started receiving business consulting and human rights workshops in 2017. The top three needs expressed by community members were improvements to the water system, household sanitation, and improved access to health services.

Corregimiento: Torti
District: Chepo
Province: Panamá Este

Homes : 130
Population : 800
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Yes
Health Center : Closest is in Torti
Community Health Workers : Yes
Homes with Latrines : 25%
Education in the Community : Up to 6th grade
Distance from Lodging Facility : 20 minutes

Medical

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

HEALTH CARE ACCESS:

Even though Panama is a country with a lot of economic growth, this growth does not apply equally to all Panamanians, especially those in rural areas. This results in stark inequality when it comes to healthcare access. The Panamanian Ministry of Health (MINSA) provides two different types of health facilities throughout rural Panama: Centros de Salud and Puestos de Salud. Centros are the larger of the two, often found in municipalities, and typically have at least one physician on staff at all times with nurses and potentially a dentist. Puestos are found sporadically in rural communities and generally have a single nurse available. 

Even with this coverage, the Centros frequently lack a full pharmacy and the staff capacity to see every patient each day. After walking long distances or paying for a bus, rural visitors to the Centros can expect long wait times given the limited staff and resources to meet the demand from all neighboring communities. The physician density in Panama remains around 630 people for every one doctor. According to the World Health Organization, there should be a maximum of 435 people per physician to qualify a country as having adequate access to medical attention.

The community of Curtí has a Puesto de Salud. The nearest Centro de Salud is in the town of Tortí, which is 25 minutes away by bus and costs $1 round-trip. The most common illnesses found throughout the community are the common cold, fever, and diarrhea. The children are especially affected by parasites. About 25% have pit latrines, but almost all are in the Latino part of the community while the indigenous traditional homes do not have sanitary latrines.

118

Volunteers

405

Patient Consultations

N/A

Vision Screenings

9

Health Education Workshops

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS:

A group of CHWs from East Panama, trained in 2019

Canglón has 1 Community Health Worker that was trained by Global Brigades. Community Health Workers, or Agentes Comunitarios en Salud (ACeS), work on a volunteer basis as advocates for healthcare within their communities. Their primary responsibilities include: educating community members to prevent common illnesses, providing emergency first aid, supporting pregnant mothers and newborns, and following up with chronic patients. The presence of these volunteers and their advocacy for health within their community contributes to the sustainability of healthcare supported by Global Brigades’ Medical Program and is one of the most impactful disease prevention strategies in rural communities.

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Clinic at the Curtí school

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Curtí’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 5 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 207

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN CURTÍ:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Johns Hopkins University Medical Brigade May 2012 21
Oklahoma State University Medical Brigade May 2017 33
Northeastern University & University of Mary Washington Medical Brigade March 2019 38

Dental

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

DENTAL CARE ACCESS

A dental charla in Ipeti Emberá, Panama

In working closely with the medical program, the dental program provides fillings, extractions, and fluoride treatments as a standard part of medical brigades. Most community members do not have regular access to dental care due to the lack of dentist within a reasonable distance.

 

 

192

Dental Patients

130

Fluoride Treatments

73

Extractions

N/A

Fillings Performed

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Clinic at the Curtí school

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Curtí’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 5 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 207

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN CURTÍ:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Johns Hopkins University Medical Brigade May 2012 21
Oklahoma State University Medical Brigade May 2017 33
Northeastern University & University of Mary Washington Medical Brigade March 2019 38

Water

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

CURTÍ’S WATER CHALLENGE

Current water tank in Curtí

Curtí has a gravity water system constructed in 1975 which brings water from a stream outside the community. Many of the pipes are starting to deteriorate and produce leaks. Additionally, the water is not centrally treated, so it arrives unfiltered to the homes where families are responsible for straining, boiling, and/or chlorinating it themselves. The original water storage tank is presenting fissures and is no longer large enough to satisfy the population of Curtí.

As the population of the community grew, the system was not large enough to provide consistent water to all the households. The water must be rationed, which means the water committee opens the system two times a week for 3-4 hours. When the water arrives, families fill barrels or buckets with water which they store and use until the next time. Finally, there are no water meters installed, so every household pays the same monthly water tariff regardless of the amount of water they used. This possibly leads to overuse, causing additional strain on the small system.

N/A

Volunteers

N/A

Project Beneficiaries

N/A

Km of Pipeline Installed

N/A

Capacity of storage tank (gallons)

CURTÍ’S WATER SOLUTION

 

In March 2020, Global Brigades began working with the community of Curtí to repair their water system. 

It was determined that the best fit for Curtí would be: to construct a larger water tank, replace the distribution network with new tubes, install an in-line chlorinator, and install household connections with water meters.  Upon completion, the repaired system will benefit 130 households, consisting of approximately 800 individuals.

In the interest of sustainability, after the project is complete, the members of the Water Council will be trained on water treatment and system maintenance, administration, and operation, so they can continue adequately managing the water system.  Curtí will also establish a monthly water fee determined by usage in order to pay the Water Council for water treatment, maintenance costs, and system sustainability.

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

CURTÍ’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE:

Community members in Curtí lack access to financial resources within the community. The majority of community members do not have bank accounts and there is only limited informal forms of credit available.  For example, a person could obtain ‘credit’ at a local store by buying something now and paying later, simply adding it to their ‘tab,’ but there would be no formalized credit transaction.  Larger financial institutions do not approve loans to community members without a fixed income, making it difficult for local micro-enterprises to grow and thrive. Most community members cite the distance to the nearest bank as the main discouragement to having a personal savings account. Even if individuals wish to travel the distance, not all community members can become members of these financial institutions–cooperatives require monthly membership fees, savings accounts often require a fixed income, and the cost of travel provides an additional barrier.

43

Volunteers

107

Loans Disbursed

22

Saving Accounts Opened

$3,940

Capital Invested

CURTÍ’S MICROFINANCE SOLUTION:

The leadership board of the Caja Rural de Curtí, standing in front of their meeting place.

The Global Brigades Business and Microfinance Team trained a new Community Bank in Curtí in 2016. Following the launch of the project, Microfinance and Business brigades arrived with fnancial training to community members and bank’s executive team in order to strengthen the knowledge and trust in the Community Bank. This encouraged the opening of more savings accounts, growth of seed capital, and upon the completion of six months of executive board training, the Community Bank began giving out loans to bank members to spur economic growth and home improvement projects.

CURTÍ’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

Jimmy, owner of Jimmy’s Bakery in Curtí

In addition to the community bank, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. In Curtí there are currently eight businesses that have received financial training and business recommendations. Agro-businesses are prominent forms of commerce within this community and adequate book-keeping and maintaining relationships with customers, as well as proper agriculture cultivation can lead to increased revenues for business owners and employees.

As members of the Community Bank these micro-enterprises, led almost entirely by women or families, contribute to savings accounts and budget for loans to expand their businesses in the future. Through the help of Business Brigades, clients get advice on their most concerning business challenges and can also receive assistance in developing sustainable agriculture practices.

BUSINESS VOLUNTEERS IN CURTÍ:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Miami University of Ohio & Columbia University January 2017 9 Duke University & University of North Carolina Chapel Hill March 2017 22
Middle Tennessee State University August 2017 7

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

CURTÍ’S PUBLIC HEALTH CHALLENGE:

According to local interviews in Curtí when GB started working there, approximately 25% of homes had latrines and about 70% had concrete floors in their homes. Such living conditions can trigger disease. Diarrhea, colds, and stomach pain are commonly reported in the community. Due to a lack of resources needed to improve their homes they are more at risk of preventable diseases caused by unsafe living conditions.

Although community members recognized the problems inherent to their living environments, they did not have the economic resources nor the technical knowledge needed to address them. It also was necessary to increase the level of awareness concerning sanitation and the importance of health in the community.

174

Volunteers

12

Sanitation Units Constructed

48

People Benefitted with PH Infrastructure (approx)

N/A

Hours of Public Health Education

CURTÍ’S PUBLIC HEALTH SOLUTION:

Brigaders help construct a sanitation unit in the nearby community of Ipeti Emberá

In the summer of 2016, Global Brigades began working on a Public Health construction project to build composting latrines based on a design implemented in other parts of this region in Panama with Peace Corps. This partnership Global Brigades develop a strategy to introduce a new type of latrine in Curtí and create a lasting impact.

This new latrine structure is equipped with an attached shower and a bathroom with two chambers for waste. Solid waste combined with scoop of sawdust after each use allows the latrine to become a source of compost. When solid waste and sawdust completely fill the first chamber it is sealed off and the toilet is moved to the second chamber. After 6 months of composting, the first chamber is re-opened and is ready to be used as a compost for gardens while the second chamber is used for the bathroom. Once the second chamber is filled to capacity the cycle starts over.

PUBLIC HEALTH VOLUNTEERS IN CURTÍ

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Oklahoma State University Medical Brigade May 2017 33 Rutgers University Medical Brigade May 2017 16
New Hampshire Area Medical Brigade May 2017 31 Western Kentucky University Medical Brigade June 2017 24
Foothill College Medical Brigade August 2017 26 Northwestern University/ University of Waterloo Medical Brigade August 2017 23
Michigan State University Medical March 2020 21

Local Reference Points

View the map to see the closest volunteer lodging facilities, hospitals, and other relevant points of reference.

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