Each post maintains a health unit with at least one full-time medical officer who handles Volunteers’ primary health-care needs, including evaluation and treatment of most medical conditions. Upon your arrival in-country, you will receive a country-specific health handbook. During pre-service training, the health unit will provide you with a medical kit with basic medical supplies to treat mild illnesses and first aid needs. During this time, you must provide your own prescription medications and any other specific medical supplies you need. (Bring a three-month supply of your prescriptions!). Your prescription medications will be ordered for you during Pre-Service training, and it may take several months for shipments to arrive. After training the medical officers will provide the prescription medications you take during service. Your medical kit can be restocked anytime during service.
During service, the medical officers are available to answer your questions, and you may always feel free to contact them by phone, text message, email, or in person if you feel you have a physical, emotional, or other problem that relates to your health or well-being. You will have physicals at mid-service and at the end of your service, and can be seen by your medical officer on an as-needed basis. Additional medical care is available at local hospitals. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer will consult with the Office of Health Services in Washington, D.C., or a regional medical officer. If you cannot receive the care you need in-country, you will be transported to a Peace Corps-approved regional medical facility or the U.S. Read more about the Peace Corps’ approach to health.
Health Issues In-CountrySimple medical conditions such as a cut or a skin infection can be complicated by the humidity and heat in Panama due to its tropical weather. Gastrointestinal illnesses are common, and malaria exists in the country. Also present in Panama are tuberculosis, dengue fever, intestinal parasites, hepatitis A and B, STIs, and HIV/AIDS. However frightening these diseases may sound, they can be avoided by using common sense and following basic preventive practices. The Peace Corps medical officers offer many sessions on health maintenance and disease prevention during pre-service training and your two-year tour. The most important of your responsibilities in Panama is to take the following preventive measures:
- Treat your drinking water
- Frequent use of sunscreen, insect repellent, and a mosquito net
- Keep well hydrated
- Follow instructions on food preparation techniques
- Follow hygiene measures thoroughly while in site
- Keep house surroundings clean to avoid rats visit
- Take malaria prophylaxis medicine continuously