Zapallal

Overview

Two students at Zapallal’s secondary school dance típico for visiting brigaders

Located in the district of Chepigana along the Pan-American highway in the Darién province, Zapallal is a large Latino community. Zapallal community members take part in various economic activities. As a farming community, residents typically plant rice and corn for their own consumption as well as to sell to intermediaries. Others also raise pigs and chickens. Microenterprises within the community include kiosks and small restaurants, or fondas, as well as individuals who sell food on the side of the road. Within Zapallal exists a strong sense of culture and traditional folkloric dances that are practiced throughout the community. Zapallal does not have any health facilities or large supermarkets. To access these facilities, community members must drive or take public transport to the municipality of Santa Fe, about 10 minutes away. Global Brigades sent its first brigade to Zapallal in 2012. Community members expressed that their top needs were: improvements to the water system, a health post in the community, and a sidewalk along the main road for children.

Corregimiento: Santa Fe
District: Chepigana

Homes : 213
Population : 812
Water System : Yes
Community Bank : Yes
Electricity : Yes
Health Center : No, closest is 5 min away in Santa Fe
Community Health Workers : Yes
Homes with Latrines : 90%
Education in the Community : Up to 12th grade
Distance from Lodging Facility : 1 hour

Medical

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

HEALTH CARE ACCESS IN ZAPALLAL:

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.

Zapallal does not have any health facilities. The closest Centro de Salud is located in Santa Fe, 5-10 minutes away driving. The most common illnesses found throughout the community are: the common cold, headaches, diarrhea, hypertension, and diabetes.

349

Volunteers

4,956

Patient Consultations

N/A

Vision Screenings

35

Health Education Workshops (Approx.)

COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS:

A group of CHWs from Darién, trained in 2019. The CHW Coordinator, Leidis (far right) is from Zapallal.

Zapallal has 2 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.

Brigaders play a game as part of their charla at Zapallal’s secondary school

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in one of Zapallal’s school buildings. 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: 447

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN ZAPALLAL:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Wayne State University February 2012 25 CUNY Brooklyn June 2012 29
Wayne State University School of Medicine February 2013 19 University of California Los Angeles June 2013 47
CUNY Queens January 2014 21 Boston College May 2014 30
Brown University & Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute March 2015 34 Small Group Brigades July 2015 4
Colorado State & University of Colorado- Colorado Springs May 2016 39 Harvard University January 2017 27
Foothill College August 2017 28 University of Denver March 2019 17
University of Miami December 2019 11

Dental

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

DENTAL CARE ACCESS

A dental charla at a clinic 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.

846

Dental Patient Consultations

392

Fluoride Treatments

37

Fillings Performed

225

Extractions Performed

Brigaders play a game as part of their charla at Zapallal’s secondary school

BRIGADE INFORMATION

Medical and Dental Brigade clinics are hosted in one of Zapallal’s school buildings. 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: 447

MEDICAL/DENTAL VOLUNTEERS IN ZAPALLAL:

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Wayne State University February 2012 25 CUNY Brooklyn June 2012 29
Wayne State University School of Medicine February 2013 19 University of California Los Angeles June 2013 47
CUNY Queens January 2014 21 Boston College May 2014 30
Brown University & Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute March 2015 34 Small Group Brigades July 2015 4
Colorado State & University of Colorado- Colorado Springs May 2016 39 Harvard University January 2017 27
Foothill College August 2017 28 University of Denver March 2019 17
University of Miami December 2019 11

Water

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Zapallal 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 with pump
Homes connected to water : 100%
Water Council : Yes

Business

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

ZAPALLAL’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGE

Community members in Zapallal 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.

86

Volunteers

98

Loans Administered

15

Saving Accounts Opened

$5,387

Capital Invested

ZAPALLAL’S MICROFINANCE SOLUTION

Leaders of the Caja Rural of Zapallal standing in their newly constructed office, 2019

The Global Brigades Business and Microfinance Team trained a new Community Bank in January 2015. They also brought Microfinance and Business brigades in order to strengthen both 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.

ZAPALLAL’S BUSINESS SOLUTION

Matilde, a small-business owner from Zapallal who received consultations from business brigades

In addition to the Community Bank, Global Brigades supports established and start-up micro-enterprises. In Zapallal, there are several 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.

Andrea Campos with her chicken businesses

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 ZAPALLAL;

Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
University of Southern California December 2016 22 Texas A&M University May 2017 25
Boston University, Miami University of Ohio, University of Missouri January 2019 26 Milwaukee School of Engineering Business Feb 2020 13

Public Health

Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Global Brigades is working on the implementation of the Holistic Model in Zapallal 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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