Yaviza

Overview

The Pan-American highway begins in Alaska and ends in Yaviza where it is intercepted by the Darién forests. The road picks back up in Columbia, continuing south.

The community of Yaviza is a large, rural, Latino community at the end of the Pan-American Highway.  It is the farthest community from Panama City that is accessible by road.  Agriculture, the lumber industry, and cattle farming are the primary sources of income for the distant community. Yaviza is a cross-section of the many different cultures and populations of Panama, including Latino, indigenous, and afro-carribean. The community has expressed motivation to collaborate with Global Brigades. Yaviza was one of the earliest settlements in the Americas; however, it now lacks even the most basic resources. The Chucunaque River runs through the town; the river serves as a port to the Pacific and small rural towns up the river.

Corregimiento: Yaviza
District: Chepigana

Homes : 650
Population : 2000
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Some
Health Center : Yes
Community Health Workers : Yes
Homes with flushing toilets : 90%
Education in the Community : Up to 12th grade
Distance from Lodging Facility : 2 hours

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.

Yaviza does have its own Centro de Salud; however, it is located across the river from the town. The bridge across the river only wide enough for walking, which means patients must be able to walk about half a mile (across the bridge and to the Centro) or cross the river by boat. There is no emergency access. The next closest health center is about 2 hours away by public bus. Neither health center is well-staffed and often medications run out and are not re-stocked for long periods of time. The most common illnesses reported by community members in Yaviza are: high blood pressure, diarrhea, cold, and fever.

349

Volunteers

4,701

Patient Consultations

133

Vision Screenings

47

Health Education Workshops (Approx.)

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS:

A group of CHWs from East Panama, trained in 2017

Yaviza has 4 Community Health Workers that were 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.

Patients waiting for intake at a Medical Brigade in Yaviza, 2019

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Yaviza’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 7 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 748

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN YAVIZA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Mt. San Jacinto and University of California Irvine June 2012 27 Texas A&M and Loyola University Chicago January 2013 48
Oklahoma State University, Penn State University, & Cleveland State University May 2014 61 Penn State College of Medicine, Texas A&M March 2015 65
Penn State University March 2016 40 Pace University & University of Connecticut May 2019 33
University of Arkansas January 2020 54

Dental

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

DENTAL CARE ACCESS

A Medical Brigader treats a young patient with fluoride in Yaviza, 2019

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.

619

Dental Patient Consultations

464

Fluoride Treatments

11

Fillings Performed

276

Extractions Performed

Patients waiting for intake at a Medical Brigade in Yaviza, 2019

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in Yaviza’s school building. The various stations of the clinic are held in the classrooms. Each day of the brigade, an average of 7 educational workshops or charlas are facilitated with the clinic’s patients.

  • AVERAGE PATIENTS ATTENDED: 748

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN YAVIZA:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Mt. San Jacinto and University of California Irvine June 2012 27 Texas A&M and Loyola University Chicago January 2013 48
Oklahoma State University, Penn State University, & Cleveland State University May 2014 61 Penn State College of Medicine, Texas A&M March 2015 65
Penn State University March 2016 40 Pace University & University of Connecticut May 2019 33
University of Arkansas January 2020 54

Water

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Yaviza 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 : Surface water pump
Homes connected to water : 80%
Water Council : No - system managed by government water services

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

YAVIZA’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Many people in Yaviza work in agriculture or fishing, which means they may not have a fixed income.

Community members in Yaviza 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.

N/A

Volunteers

18

Savings Accounts Opened

52

Loans Disbursed

$1,979

Capital Invested

YAVIZA’S MICROFINANCE SOLUTION

GB Panama’s Director with leaders of Yaviza’s community bank

The Global Brigades Business and Microfinance Team trained a new Community Bank in 2016 in a sector of Yaviza called Pueblo Nuevo de Yaviza. With the support of Global Brigades, the leaders encouraged the opening of more savings accounts and growth of seed capital. 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.

YAVIZA’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

In addition to the Community Bank, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. 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 will receive advice on their most concerning business challenges and can also receive assistance in developing sustainable agriculture practices. Global Brigades will send a Business Brigade to Yaviza as soon as feasible.

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Yaviza 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 : N/A
Homes with latrines : 95%
Homes with baths/showers : N/A
Common house materials : Concrete blocks, wood

Local Reference Points

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

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