Panama: Work with the Ngäbe-Bugle people handed over

This has improved indigenous people's access to health care. From 1998 through 2001, MSF ran a primary care project in the Rio Cricamola valley, in Boca del Toro province's isolated northern district of Kankintu, inhabited by about 250,000 people of the Ngäbe-Bugle ethnic group.

MSF worked closely with the health authorities to extend the health care network in the area. MSF trained local medical staff, community health promoters, and traditional birth attendants, donated drugs, improved water and sanitation, and carried out vaccination campaigns. MSF re-equipped and expanded Kankintu's health center and built three new health posts in nearby villages.

MSF also installed a small laboratory to detect diseases such as leishmaniasis and tuberculosis. In December 2001, MSF handed the project over to Kankintu's Comarca to ensure the continuation of activities. In support of the traditional culture of the Ngäbe-Bugle and as a complement to the health care network in Kankintu district, MSF continues financial support through 2002 of Medescal, a local organization promoting traditional herbal medicine.

Medescal is setting up collective botanical gardens, and encourages botanical research and the scientific validation of the therapeutic impact of herbal medicine. MSF began work in Panama in 1992.

International staff: 5

National staff: 12