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Posted: July 29, 2010

Panama’s partner? Project C.U.R.E.

And the country's first lady dropped by to say thanks

Randi Abels

In Panama, 285,000 indigenous people live in extreme poverty and are dying from conditions that might not even merit a visit to the doctor in the United States, such as diarrhea, stomach problems, and respiratory issues.

"The indigenous people are separated by natural and cultural barriers and die sometimes because we are not able to get them the help they need," First Lady of Panama Marta Martinelli said last week at Project C.U.R.E.'s fifth annual First Ladies' Luncheon.

Centennial-based Project C.U.R.E. has partnered with Panama's first lady to send medical supplies to the country. Martinelli said she and her husband are both working toward creating a healthier future for their country, and she took the opportunity to express her thanks at the luncheon, attended by about 1,200 people.

And indigenous people, which make up about 10 percent of Panama's population, are not the only ones suffering. Panama's residents have experienced severe health problems throughout its history, beginning with yellow fever and malaria in 1820, and continuing through the building of the Panama Canal and the founding of nursing schools and hospitals.

"I would like to decrease child mortality, improve maternal help, and combat HIV, AIDS, and other diseases," Martinelli said.

Along with these goals, Martinelli has an outline that consists of 12 programs intended to improve the health of her country, including expanding surgical options, providing eyeglasses to citizens, building rehabilitation centers, and providing families with financial help for their health care.

Project C.U.R.E. is helping the country of Panama accomplish those goals by working with Martinelli to select health-care facilities where supplies and equipment are most needed. The nonprofit provides donated medical supplies to developing countries, and is currently the world's largest organization to do so.

"For every $0.98 donated to Project C.U.R.E., 20 dollars of medical supplies will be provided to Panama," said Dr. Douglas Jackson, president and CEO of Project C.U.R.E. "We are going to change the world."

Martinelli is confident that improvement will come to Panama through this program. "We received an initial boost from which we learned to continue forward. Having chosen my country as a beneficiary of your help, you have my word and my commitment that it will be very carefully managed."

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Randi Abels is a ColoradoBiz intern.

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