Panama Medical Missions

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Chiriqui, Panama is a remote mountain area, ten hours from the nearest hospital. There is no government-subsidized healthcare and residents are often too poor to even afford a proper diet. American doctors spend their own time and money to staff a clinic there, and find the need is greater than any they have ever seen. Reed Galin reports. [Español]              

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(Locator: Chiriqui, Panama)

This man has walked a long way, on sore feet, to see a doctor.

“How long has he had this problem?”

Physicians have come a long way to help him.

United Methodist doctors and dentists from the United States staff this clinic in rural Panama.

Dentist and patient: “It’s not going to look big but it will feel big. I want to know if her lip and her tongue feel big on this side, because that tells me if she’s …”

These medical missionaries treat everything from colds and infections, to more serious health conditions.

Dr. Calvin Morris/United Methodist Volunteer: “We see a lot of untreated high blood pressure, undiagnosed rheumatoid arthritis, things that would have gotten screened out and sent to specialists years ago just walk in here daily, untreated. In our country, it’s hard to imagine the need that these people have. We just don’t experience it. The poorest of our poor have better access to care than these folks will ever have.”

Local Methodist pastor, the Reverend Marcos Morales, helps register patients.

The Rev. Marcos Morales/Methodist Pastor, David, Panama: “Several years ago, they had medical attention from the government. But not now.”

Medical volunteers staff this clinic two to three times a year, sometimes caring for hundreds of patients in a day.

Jane Dunn/Volunteers in Mission Coordinator: “In their eyes, that we are wealthy Americans that are privileged and that we care enough to link with them and to help them. It is a way to instill hope and self-esteem in their own lives and give them hope.”


Various medical mission teams try to staff the clinic in Chiriqui at least twice a year. First United Methodist Church of Glen Ellyn in Illinois provides the doctors and medicines for one of those annual clinics.

For more information contact First United Methodist Church of Glen Ellyn at 630-469-3510.

Also, see: Volunteers in mission provide medical help in Panama