El Peñón

  • Overview
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Water
  • Business
  • Public Health

Overview

El Peñón is located in the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous reserve just north of the province of Veraguas, west of Panama City. A typical house is made of cement blocks and zinc. El Peñón has a primary school and a secondary school that offer from kindergarten to 12th grade. Most of the community members work in agriculture, farming beans, corn, root vegetables, and fruits. There is a health outpost in the community. All of the homes in El Peñón are connected to a gravity-fed aqueduct, but the water must be rationed in the dry season. El Peñón opened a community bank with Global Brigades in 2019 as part of a project sponsored by the World Bank. The top needs expressed by the community were improvements to housing, a secondary aqueduct, and a fence for the school.

District: Nürüm
Province: Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé

Homes : 60
Population : 300
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Yes
Health Center : No
Community Health Workers : No
Homes with Latrines : 100%
Education : Up to 9th grade
Distance from lodging facility : 1 hour

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.

El Peñón has a Puesto de Salud. The nearest Centro de Salud is about an hour away in the provincial capital of Santiago. The most prevalent illnesses in El Peñón are vomitting, diarrhea, and allergies.

72

Volunteers

1,051

Patient Consultations

N/A

Vision Screenings Provided

34

Health Education Workshops

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS

The community of El Peñón does not yet have Community Health Workers. Global Brigades Panama Medical Program is working diligently to train volunteers as CHWs in its partner communities as part of the Holistic Model. El Peñón will receive training as soon as possible to further support the health of its community members.

The future CHW’s primary responsibilities will 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

A medical brigade at the secondary school, Jan. 2020

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in El Peñón’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 9 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 680

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN EL PEÑÓN

Chapter Date Number of Volunteers Chapter Date Number of Volunteers
Florida Gulf Coast University Medical Brigade May 2019 35 Marquette University Medical Brigade January 2020 37

Dental

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

DENTAL CARE ACCESS

A dental charla in Ipeti Emberá, Panama

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 a dentist within a reasonable distance.

340

Dental Patient Consultations

143

Extractions

180

Fluoride Treatments

N/A

Fillings Performed

BRIGADE INFORMATION

A medical brigade at the secondary school, Jan. 2020

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in El Peñón’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 9 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 680

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN EL PEÑÓN

Chapter Date Number of Volunteers Chapter Date Number of Volunteers
Florida Gulf Coast University Medical Brigade May 2019 35 Marquette University Medical Brigade January 2020 37

Water

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in El Peñón but has not yet begun with the Water Program. Now in the planning phase, the financing, delivery, and installation of a water system infrastructure, or repairs to existing infrastructure will start as soon as feasible.

 

Water System : Yes
System Type : Gravity Aqueduct
Homes with Access to Water : 100%
Water Council : Yes

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

EL PEÑÓN’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Community members in El Peñón lack access to financial resources within the community. The majority of community members do not have bank accounts and there are 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.

9

Volunteers

21

Loans Disbursed

53

Savings Accounts Opened

$1,020

Capital Invested

EL PEÑÓN’S MICROFINANCE SOLUTION:

El Peñón bank training

In 2019, El Peñón was selected by the World Bank as one of 4 indigenous Panamanian communities to open a community bank with support from Global Brigades. Global Brigades’ microfinance technicians trained an (all female!) executive board in how to run their community bank. Now community members can open savings accounts, capitalize the bank’s loan fund, and take out small loans. The ability to take out loans will spur economic growth in the community and increase members’ access to higher education, improved healthcare, and home improvement.

EL PEÑÓN’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

A member of El Peñón’s women artisan group

In addition to the Community Bank, Global Brigades supports micro-enterprises in the community by providing financial training and business consultations. Agro-businesses and artisan crafts 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.

BUSINESS VOLUNTEERS IN EL PEÑÓN

Chapter Date Number of Volunteers
Marquette University Business Brigade January 2020 9

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in El Peñón but has not yet begun with the Public Health Program. Now in the planning phase, the financing, delivery, and installation of household health infrastructure products will start as soon as feasible. 

Homes with Latrines : 40%
Homes with Flushing Toilets : unknown
Homes with Baths/Showers : unknown
Common House Materials : Concrete blocks, zinc, straw

Local Reference Points

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

  • Feature