MPH Panama Practicum 2012: Viva La Vida En Panama

July 1, 2012
Author: Maurice Jackson

So I arrived in Panama a few days early to get a feel for the people, culture, and whatever else 😉  I don’t know if I’m supposed to be having this much. I made a youtube video, which pretty much shows me roaming around Panama City observing the people, the culture, and other environmental scanning.

I’ve seen lots of Kuna women around the city. They dress in their traditional outfits, and they are absolutely beautiful. Strangely enough, I have not seen many Kuna men.

I’m currently staying in a hostel in Casco Viejo, which is the oldest part of the city. The architecture is so beautiful and there are many restaurants and bars around. The area is going through a sort of renovation; or I guess I should say gentrification. The hood is literally right down the street. My taxi driver warned that it was “peligroso”, but it was pretty obvious. Nonetheless, I’ve been respectful and smart enough not too get into trouble.

Surprisingly, the president of Panama stays in Casco Viejo, which is why there are so many policeman around. Their outfits are pretty damn fly. They are pretty friendly though, but they hold the biggest machine guns.

The rest of my cohorts will arrive today and then the work will begin. Trust me, it’ll be fun work but tedious. These next two weeks will be a roller coaster ride. While the weather is hot and humid but bearable. I must add, the weather is PERFECT at night. Not too hot or cold with perfect breezes.

I must say, I’m really feelin’ my “tan” here Lol. This place is far from a paradise, but I really don’t want to leave 😦

About the MPH Panama Practicum:

A group of 15 University of Southern California graduate students are researching public health in Panama City, Panama, for a two-week international practicum, organized by the USC Master of Public Health (MPH) program. The students have been divided into three groups to work on maternal and child health, vaccination, environmental infectious diseases, nutrition and physical activity.

One group will be surveying patients about the healthcare system at a local clinic and proposing interventions to improve vaccination, infant development and women’s health. Another group will be in the field responding to outbreaks of environmentally spread infectious diseases and working to control common vectors such as mosquitoes. The last group will be calculating body mass index measurements for elementary school students and developing methods to improve nutrition and exercise within the school.

During their trip, the students will also be attending lectures on Panama’s healthcare system and statistics as well as visiting a remote indigenous tribe. Before leaving Panama, each student will be providing a deliverable that is intended to improve health in Panama.

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