MPH Panama Practicum 2013: “…que yo me voy de California a Panam?!” – Vector Group Blog 1

Michael Vasser II
July 10, 2013

Hi all,

I couldn’t help but play with a lyrics from a great song by Shakira as I am constantly reminded of it now that I’ve been introduced to such an exciting experience so far here in Panama. I’ve had the fortunate experience to have lived 6 months in Costa Rica, and now I feel even more fortunate to be able to see something familiar, and yet SO different and unique.

This city scape never gets old for me. I was so surprised to see so many skyscrapers in downtown Panama City. It’s pretty cool, I have to say. This shot was taken right after we got caught in your typical panamanian downpour during a walking city tour. Although I find the downtown city scape to be so incredible and cool, I’m happy that many panamanians here have given us really good advice: that is to not get dizzy trying to look up at all the buildings and get caught up in the wealth of Panama, when there is so much poverty that really requires attention.

To delve into what we’ve been doing in my vector group. We are learning to be flexible. Our first day in the field began with us thinking that because of the morning rain, we weren’t going to be able to go out and investigate cases of Equine Encephalitis. Then it turned out that “vamos porque vamos” (we’re going because we’re going) as our main guide Franco so eloquently put it, regardless of the wet weather. Then plans changed and we ended up at a dog training facility, where the owner gave us a demonstration of how his dogs were trained. He had bomb dogs, drug sniffing dogs, therapy dogs, etc. The main thing was to inquire about his requirements of animal vaccination and his responsibility towards fumigating his property to reduce mosquito and tick populations.

The next thing you know, we end up a panamanian water plant and learned all about the country’s potable water infrastructure. It was very interesting to learn how the water is treated, how it makes it to both rural and urban populations, and a lot of the economic and political issues associated with water borne diseases.

It has definitely been an exciting first few days and I’m so excited to keep delving into more issues dealing with vectors and diseases. Although we haven’t gotten too much into it, our next few days should be more intense and will provide us with opportunities that we will not have expected.d

Until the next blog entry,


About the MPH Panama Practicum

A group of 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. This post was excerpted from panama.usc.eduView all posts in this series »