Floating Doctors is a collective of veterinarians, physicians, nurses, public health specialists and students that provides primary care, advanced care, education and community development to remote rural indigenous communities. With few resources and little access to care, there is an overwhelming need within these communities for veterinary medicine and animal husbandry education. Each year our medical clinic hosts hundreds of volunteers from around the world, and now we are looking to expand our veterinary clinic.
Floating Doctors offers an exceptional opportunity for veterinary medical students to experience tropical medicine and its unique diseases, practice in a practical, hands-on setting, and provide much needed care and education to impoverished populations. Students also enjoy a rare glimpse into the life of the Ngäbe people and an unparalleled opportunity for cultural exchange.
Veterinary services are extremely rare for the entire region in which we operate. When word gets out that we have a Veterinarian with us, many children will race home to return with baskets of puppies or kittens for us to attend, but also the occasional jungle animal that may have been tamed to keep in the villages, or that are brought in injured as rescues or recovered from poachers. So far we have attended monkeys, agouti, sloths, kinkajous, javelinas, parrots, and even rescued a sea turtle harpooned for the bushmeat trade and two baby pumas from a poacher who had killed the mother and tried to sell the kittens on the black market as exotic pets.
Beyond the need to advocate for the animal patients who can’t speak on their own behalf, providing veterinary services also protects our human patients. Zoonoses such as hookworm can be prevented by something as simple as feeding deworming tablets to the village dogs. Additionally, an entire family’s livelihood may depend on their small horse, or all their savings could be invested in a pig or cow. Being able to keep these animals in good health supports the self-sustainability of the rural farming families we serve.
Veterinarians normally work alongside our doctors in our clinical deployments. We see a lot of animals brought to the clinic location, and invariably are called to go on a house call, for anything from a calf that won’t feed to a snakebitten horse to a monkey with a bad splinter. Deworming, treating for skin parasites, treating wounds, spaying & neutering, and a wide variety of treatments for a wide variety of presentations is typical.
It is our pleasure to provide veterinary services to the communities throughout the year, and students and veterinarians are always welcome. This experience is often utilized by veterinary students as an elective rotation for two to four weeks.
Floating Doctors provides veterinarians and veterinary students with an opportunity to experience tropical medicine and its unique diseases. The veterinarians working here are able to provide much needed care and education to impoverished populations in a practical, hands-on setting. In addition to providing vets and students with an unparalleled opportunity for cultural exchange, the Ngäbe people also provide a rare glimpse into their way of life.
We conduct single-day clinical deployments to communities near our base and multi-day clinics as long as five days to more remote locations, living in villages during the deployment and returning to our base afterwards.
Most of the time, our veterinarians provide preventive care to animals. As the parasite burden for animal patients here is often quite high, we routinely prescribe deworming medication and flea prevention. Occasionally, we treat jungle animals that have been tamed in villages or rescued from poachers.
In partnership with local veterinary groups, we also conduct several spay/neuter clinics throughout the region.