Hola from Panama! As a I write this I only have three hours before my drive to the airport to go back home. This trip has been amazing- I am sad to leave but also so fortunate to have all these new experiences.
Two weeks ago 9 USC MPH student with a wide variety of experiences showed up here- I am an online student so it was my first time meeting any of them. Thankfully we bonded quickly and got to work exploring and conducting some preliminary research.
I was part of team Vector Control. Our focus was determining what social factors prevented the community of Las Mañanitas from conducting better vector control, specifically the elimination of mosquito breeding areas. We discovered that the vector control team at the Centro de Salud (health clinic) was extremely active, doing daily house inspections, conducting community outreach, and participating in school programs. We were fortunate enough to follow them on an inspection of a water treatment facility for the community. The picture below shows one of our findings, the barrels were collecting water– a potential mosquito breeding site.
Fortunately for the men running the treatment facility, the Vector Control Team did not find any mosquito larvae or they would have been fined.
Our vector control research group followed up with surveys of individuals visiting the clinic and developing posters (see below) to help educate the community on ways to get rid of standing water and trash on their property to eliminate mosquitos and protect their families from dengue, chikungunya, zika, and malaria.
One of our biggest recommendations is the implementation of trash and recycling programs- the entire country is covered with litter. So unfortunate in such a beautiful place. Look for my next posts- I will discuss the trash and some of our more fun trips!