MPH Panama Practicum 2012: Hasta Luego, Panama…

July 13, 2012
Author: Chelsea Walden

We finished working at our sites this week, and the school (Altos de Cabuya) had a closing ceremony for us. Each class prepared performances of song, dance, poetry, or drama and the director presented us with certificates of thanks and outstanding work. It is heart-warming to know that they appreciated us just as much as we appreciated them. The students put a smile on my face everyday and it was hard to leave them.

Today was the culmination of our projects. Each group presented to our peers, our professors, Dr. Calvo, Professor Lourdes Alguero, and others who have helped us organize our work here in Panama. All students did a fabulous job with their fieldwork and left the community with material that they will hopefully be able to use now as well as in the future. I hope that students from the Universidad de Panama and future USC students who come here in years to follow will be able to continue and improve our work. Coming to Panama has been and eye-opening experience and I know that I have learned so many things here that I will never forget. I especially want to thank Lourdes, Kathleen, and Rosa for being so helpful and patient with each and every one of us?these women are absolutely amazing! I will miss all the people I was fortunate enough to get to know on this trip?and I will miss Panama? Ciao! Besos!

More 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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