Ipeti Guna

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

Overview

Ipeti Guna (or Ibedi Kuna) is an indigenous community of 97 homes with a population of approximately 994 people. Located in East Panama, it is situated along the Pan-American Highway, the main stretch of road throughout Panama. As an indigenous Guna community, they are governed by the Guna Congress as well as the traditional Panamanian legal system. Ipeti Guna is a primarily agricultural community, relying on the production of corn, rice, plantains, coffee, yams, yucca (cassava), cacao and fruit for their own consumption as well as to sell to intermediaries. Microenterprises within the community also include the raising and selling of chicken, pork and fish. In 2016, Ipeti Guna’s Community Bank finished construction on an office which is now being used to host weekly meetings. There is a health post in the community, but the nearest health center is in the nearby town of Tortí. The top needs expressed by community members to GB when we began our partnership with Ipeti Guna were: transforming the Health Post to a Health Center, setting up a health committee, and improving households health conditions by adding concrete floors.

Corregimiento: Torti
District: Chepo

Homes : 97
Population : 994
Water System : Yes- needs improvements
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Some
Health Center : No, nearest in Tortí
Community Health Workers : Yes
Homes with Latrines : 90%
Education in the Community : Up to 6th grade
Distance from Lodging Facility : 15 minutes to Tortí

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.

Ipeti Guna has a Puesto de Salud. The closest corresponding Centro de Salud is in Tortí, about 15-20 minutes away by bus. The most common illnesses seen within the community are diarrhea, stomachaches, skin infections, toothaches, fever, and vomiting. Community members reported that women are most susceptible to STDs and children are most susceptible to parasites and ear infections.

309

Volunteers

2,925

Patient Consultations

N/A

Vision Screenings

55

Health Education Workshops (Approx.)

A group of CHWs from East Panama, trained in 2017

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS:

Ipeti Guna 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.

Ipeti Guna primary school

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Ipeti Guna’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 8 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 334

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN IPETI GUNA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Samuel Merritt University Medical August 2012 21 University of Western Ontario Medical May 2013 27
University of Texas Austin / University of Wisconsin Madison Medical January 2014 52 Seton Hall University Medical May 2014 22
University of Denver Medical March 2015 41 University of Arizona Medical March 2016 23
Regis University Medical August 2016 25 University of Oklahoma Medical May 2017 33
Boston College Medical January 2019 29 Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals June 2019 11

 

Dental

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete
A dental charla in Ipeti Emberá, Panama

DENTAL CARE ACCESS

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.

414

Dental Patient Consultations

207

Fluoride Treatments

273

Extractions Performed

N/A

Fillings Performed

Ipeti Guna primary school

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Ipeti Guna’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 8 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 334

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN IPETI GUNA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Samuel Merritt University Medical August 2012 21 University of Western Ontario Medical May 2013 27
University of Texas Austin / University of Wisconsin Madison Medical January 2014 52 Seton Hall University Medical May 2014 22
University of Denver Medical March 2015 41 University of Arizona Medical March 2016 23
Regis University Medical August 2016 25 University of Oklahoma Medical May 2017 33
Boston College Medical January 2019 29 Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals June 2019 11

 

Water

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Ipeti Guna but has not yet begun with the Water Program. If there is a need, the Water Program will begin implementing a new water system or any necessary repairs to existing infrastructure as soon as feasible.

Water System : Yes
System Type : Gravity Aqueduct
Homes Connected to Water : 98%
Water Council : Yes

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

IPETI KUNA’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Community members in Ipeti Kuna 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. In order to gain access, members must travel to Torti, a 15-minute bus ride. 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 cost of travel and the lack of land titles as an indigenous community provide additional barriers.

102

Volunteers

$8,135

Capital Invested

322

Loans Disbursed

60

Saving Accounts Opened

IPETI KUNA’S MICROFINANCE SOLUTION

A student volunteer along with the Microfinance Field Technician, Jorge, sit down with the Community Bank Treasurer in the new Community Bank office to review their monthly financial records.

Through Global Brigades Business and Microfinance initiatives, Ipeti Kuna established their first Community Bank in August of 2015. With the opening of the Community Bank, community members have access to credit and savings accounts for the first time. Further, with access to savings, families can start to adequately prepare for the future, rather than hiding extra money in their beds, or not saving at all.

With the strong relationship developed in partnership with Global Brigades as a Holistic Community, Ipeti Kuna looks to receive financial training and business consulting to expand and improve its local microenterprises.

One of the cornerstones for the success of future projects is the sustainable nature of a Community Bank: investments are approved through loans granted to community projects; interest is then paid back on the loans—both large and small—and 100% of profits stay in the community, enabling the funding of more loans for more projects in the community. Capitalization of the cooperative is directly linked to the development of Ibedi Guna; the growth and success of their Community Bank means growth and success for the community.

In 2016 Ipeti Kuna finished construction on their own Community Bank office that will be used to hold meetings with members and store account records. This was a huge milestone for the leadership of the Community Bank and will allow them to continue growing and maintain operations.

IPETI KUNA’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

In addition to the Community Bank, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. In Ipeti Kuna there are currently four businesses that have received financial training and business recommendations. Agro-businesses are prominent forms of commerce within this community. 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 IPETI KUNA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Carnegie Mellon Business March 2016 15 University of Missouri Business January 2017 25
Arizona State University Business May 2017 19 Arizona State University, University of Nebraska Lincoln, &
West Virginia University Business
May 2018 18
Texas A&M University Business January 2019 10 Texas A&M University Business January 2020 15

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Ipeti Guna 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 flushing toilets : ~11%
Homes with latrines : ~90%
Homes with Baths/Showers : N/A
Common House Materials : Wood

Local Reference Points

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

  • Feature