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.
Guacuco Guna does not have a Puesto de Salud and the closest Centro de Salud is in Torti, which is 15 minutes away by bus and an hour walking. The most common illnesses seen by community members are intestinal parasites, diarrhea, common cold and skin infections.
Guacuco is divided into two communities: Guacuco Guna and Guacuco Latino. Global Brigades has been able to host medical clinics in the Guacuco Latino portion and members from both parts of the general community are able to attend.
*These statistics reflect the work of historical Medical/Dental Brigades. For more information, view the Guacuco Latino profile.