Notes from the Field: Dominican Republic


Community Health

On my most recent trip to Haiti to continue Direct Relief’s extensive work supporting more than 115 hospitals and clinics throughout the country, I had the opportunity to cross the border into the Dominican Republic and visit two amazing Direct Relief recipients who are supporting the most needy patients in their communities with quality medical care.

Fundacion Solidaria del Divino Nino Jesus (FSDNJ), is located in Santiago, in the northern part of the Dominican Republic. This organization was founded by Padre Eduardo Collado nearly five years ago to support the neediest children in the area with education, schooling, and nutrition. It has grown tremendously since that time and now supports a network of 175 medical facilities with essential medical supplies donated by Direct Relief that patients would otherwise go without.

These medical facilities report that they only get about 20 percent of the medications and  supplies they need to treat their patients from the country’s pharmaceutical program while the remaining 80 percent has to be purchased by their patients—the vast majority of whom cannot afford to do so, thereby going without their medications.

And because their network is so large, it is also extremely diverse. In my two-day visit traveling with Padre Eduardo through the area, we visited eight different sites which included everything from large public hospitals to rural community clinics to retirement homes, hospices, physical therapy centers, dentists, burn units, pediatric cancer centers, orthopedic hospitals, and the intensive care unit (ICU) at the largest hospital in Santiago.  All of these facilities have been at the receiving end of the donated medications that were sent by Direct Relief to FSDNJ and were extremely grateful for the support they have been receiving on behalf of their patients.

After two days in Santiago with FSDNJ, I took the two-hour bus ride from Santiago to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, to visit another Direct Relief beneficiary, The Batey Relief Alliance (BRA). Founded in 1997, BRA works to support the populations inside the bateyes, which are communities that reside inside sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic that are comprised mainly of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent.

The Batey Relief Alliance has set up a medical center in the Monte Plata region in central Dominican Republic which is home to thousands of migrant workers living in the surrounding bateyes. Living and working conditions inside the bateyes are often extremely impoverished, with limited access to health care, running water, electricity and sanitary facilities so the introduction of this extremely clean and well-functioning medical center is a huge benefit to this population who would otherwise not have access to quality medical care.

With the support of regular donations of medications and supplies from Direct Relief, this clinic is able to provide medical, dental, and eye care to roughly 150 people per day regardless of their ability to pay.

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