About The Mission Trip
International Medical Relief is committed to helping the people of Panama. IMR has sent 8 teams in the last three years to Panama, working with indigenous people and small villages throughout the country. On this trip, you will be part of a continuing effort to help some of Panama’s poorest groups of indigenous people. The team will travel by various modes of transportation into the Panamanian jungle. You will be staying in dormitory style accommodations and you may also camp for part of the trip in small schools while staying in the villages where your patients live . You will have a great adventure, seeing first hand how your patients live while helping hundreds of indigenous people to be healthier!
The Republic of Panama is located in Central America. Panama is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica, and Columbia. The striking landscape of Panama varies from mountains to long stretches of pristine beaches. Rich in natural resources and minerals, the landscape is scattered with waterfalls. Panama is known for the Panama Canal and this must see engineering wonder is on our list of things to do. Watching the big ships go through the canal and learning about this engineering wonder is quite fantastic – did you know that the original gigantic dredging machines are still in daily operation, more than 110 years after first starting their engines?!
These indigenous people have greatly limited chances of survival if their illnesses are not diagnosed and treated. According to the World Health Organization, diarrheal diseases, cholera, and pneumonia are among those diseases devastating the people of Panama. Communicable diseases are not the threats, however. Alcoholism, poverty, and a lack of potable drinking water all contribute to the public health issues of these communities. Indigenous people comprise 8% of Panama’s population but 19% of the poor and 35% of the extreme poor. Hypertension and diabetes are on the rise, as they are everywhere. The IMR team will help ensure that these tribes survive and have the health care that they need – we combat these acute illnesses through a strong focus on preventative education and with your fantastic skills by providing acute medical and dental care. You can expect to see and treat many skin infections including tinea, impetigo, cutaneous leishmaniasis, and staph infections. Scabies and lice are also prevalent. You’ll see ear infections, upper and lower respiratory tract infections, and many different vaginal infections. Leptospirosis and giardia are also common conditions. From an education perspective, your team will focus on clean drinking water, water storage, and sanitation. Malaria and mosquito bite prevention will also be important! Please join us as we return to Panama to care for people with very limited access to care. To help you give the best care possible, your translators will speak excellent English and Spanish. We will add additional local translators as needed for the indigenous languages. We need your help! Please join this amazing team!
Transportation & Lodging
This trip will be a mix of dormitory style accommodations and camping (or sleeping inside a building) in the villages where you will provide much needed care for patients in remote communities. It will have the best of all worlds–time in the jungle, time in the city, and wonderful food! You will experience life in the small villages and may have the opportunity for some amazing birdwatching . The harpy eagle is Panama’s national bird, but the bird to watch for is the famous emerald-green quetzal!
This trip will start and end in David, Panama – a short 1 hour flight from Panama City. San José de David, or David, is the capital of Chiriquí Province, in western Panama. David is Panama’s third largest city and Chiriqui Province is home to Panama’s tallest mountains, longest rivers and most fertile valleys. It is also home to Panama’s only volcano and not just any volcano but a volcano with 7 craters! No longer active, it is the highest point in Panama. Chiriqui is the center of Panama’s thriving coffee industry so come thirsty!
A one-day tour of the Panama Canal and the Miraflores Lock Visitors Center is included with this trip. We hope to see one of the massive cruise or container ships slip through the Miraflores lock during our visit. It is remarkable to see how the ships are guided through the locks as they silently rise and fall.
During your time in Chiriqui Province you will be able to take in some of the lush landscape famous for Panama and view some of the numerous waterfalls cascading down throughout the countryside. You will travel through some amazing country as you wave to the local children who will excitedly wave back with both hands!
Panama is famous for handicrafts and you will certainly have some time to shop during this medical mission. You will be able to choose from molas (bright panels of cloth with intricate patterns and stitching), beautiful plaited baskets, polares (intricate and spectacularly beautiful traditional outfits), and more!
Extend Your Stay
Many of our volunteers have extended their stays at the back end of the trip to take advantage of the world-class sport fishing or kayaking in the Panama Canal. You can take a real tram tour of the rainforest or enjoy the Gatun Lake Expedition. You can see Panama’s only volcano and the famous Quetzal at the Parque Nacional Volcan Baru or search for the Geoffroy’s tamarin monkey – found only in Panama! Howler monkeys are an experience all to themselves. No matter your interest or desired activity level, Panama will surprise you and enchant you. The IMR office is here to help you extend your stay!