Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Program in Public Health

Access to Health: Dominican Republic

The Access to Health Project is an interdisciplinary health and human rights project in which students and faculty from Northwestern Law School's Center for International Human Rights (CIHR) and Northwestern Medicine's Center for Global Health work with a community in the developing world to assess the public health needs of that community, and to design an appropriate, sustainable intervention. In 2013, the Access to Health project sent a team to Guaymate, a town in La Romana provice, in the Dominican Republic.

Guaymate, a town in La Romana province, Dominican Republic is the site of the Access to Health project. In the initial phase of this project, Professor Juliet Sorensen’s multidisciplinary Health and Human Rights class performed in-depth research projects on potential health and human rights issues in Guaymate. As the culmination of this educational ‘consultancy’, a group of law and business students traveled to Guaymate to complete interviews with the community and other key stakeholders and disseminate their research findings. The initial phase also consists of formation of a community advisory board to lead the project in Guaymate, with the local US Peace Corps volunteer acting as onsite community liaison and facilitator for the project. In subsequent phases, using the UIC Peacecare model, a formal community based research project with needs assessment and focus groups is convened, the community identifies a health intervention, the intervention is implemented and lastly a follow-up assessment is completed and disseminated with the goal of ongoing community involvement in identifying and improving their health outcomes.

Clinica de Familia is a nonprofit HIV and primary care clinic serving as the MoH’s HIV treatment center in the largest town in the province, La Romana. It has active community outreach programs into Guaymate and the surrounding bateyes and as such is an important partner in the Access to Health project. Clinica de Familia has requested assistance in developing a continuing medical education curricula in HIV for their staff, and interest in hosting ID fellows for HIV clinical rotations and Northwestern medical students for clinical and research rotations.

In 2013, CGH infectious diseases physician Ramona Bhatia, MD, MS, travelled to the Dominican Republic to deliver a tailored HIV course to Clinica providers. Dr. Bhatia was also a key liaison between the Clinica and Project Cure, a not-for-profit that provides needed medical supplies to institutions around the world. With the support of the GHI, NMH, and the MLB, Project Cure made a large-scale, targeted donation to the Clinica in the spring of 2014. Our ongoing work with the Clinica includes evaluating the efficacy of our HIV course. We are also developing the Clinica as a future site for Feinberg students to conduct AOSC research and participate in clincal global health rotations.