SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, April 4, 2017. – On March 31, 2017, Batey Relief Alliance’s Board President in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Togarma Rodriguez signed an agreement with Dominican Republic Ministry of Health’s Regional Director, Dr. Mirna Font-Frias officially handing over BRA’s Medical Center to the Dominican government.
“Our objective is to reinforce BRA’s firm commitment to support the government in its continuing effort to providing quality health services to some of the country’s most impoverished and abandoned populations living in difficult and health-deprived areas, mainly the highly vulnerable sugarcane plantations rural batey communities,” said Ulrick Gaillard, BRA’s President and CEO.
In year 2000, Dominican health authorities requested BRA’s support to help fill a life-threatening healthcare gap inside the batey communities in the province of Monte Plata. In 2003, BRA responded by first installing a fully-equipped and staffed medical clinic, which followed by the construction in 2004 of the only modern medical center ever built inside a batey since the start of sugar production in the Dominican Republic in year 1517.
Funded by the Lions Clubs International Foundation and the Clinton Foundation, the 15-consulting room mega medical facility, strategically sitting on a 1400 square meter-community complex inside batey Cinco Casas, Municipal District of Don Juan, Monte Plata province, created more than 490 new jobs in the province; spurred new economic opportunities for young professionals and small businesses; and delivered comprehensive health and HIV/AIDS services to more than 35,000 patients each year.
During its 10-year operation, BRA spent more than U.S $72 million; trained dozens of community health promoters; and developed a unique Holistic Health Care approach to attend to the various diseases and healthcare needs of children and their families from more than 68 communities. Each patient and his/her family that entered the center to receive medical consults, automatically received free testing and counseling, medicines, multivitamins, Antiparasitic drugs, nutrition, clean drinking water and preventive health education (water, hygiene, sanitation, sexually-transmitted infections, family planning, etc.) to complete their primary care and HIV treatment (pediatrics, gynecology, general medicine, antiretroviral therapy, mammogram, Pap Smear, child vaccination, etc.). All patients also had the options to receive complete vision care with prescription eyeglasses and dental care.
“Such comprehensive intervention guaranteed that each patient will eventually become healthy and fit to attend school and become productive for his/her family, community or society,” added Gaillard.
The facility also has a fully equipped laboratory, dental clinic, ophthalmology clinic, emergency room, and a recently built ambulatory surgery clinic. Other amenities include waiting and meeting rooms, conference and medical archive areas; clean drinking systems, parking and a garden.
“While BRA will no longer provide direct health services as part of its overall program agenda, it will, however, continue to use its unique holistic approach model by supporting a number of clinics and hospitals operated by some of its key local partners to ensure that patients do receive comprehensive health services,” concluded Gaillard.
BRA pledged to accompany the Dominican government during its management of the newly-acquired medical center by complementing the medical attention with some of its ongoing donor-funded programs, including food security, deworming, micronutrients, clean drinking water, agriculture, preventive health education, etc.
Founded in New York in 1997, BRA is a non-for-profit, humanitarian aid organization dedicated to addressing the socio-economic and health needs of children and their families severely affected by extreme poverty, disease and hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly in Haiti, Dominican Republic and Peru. BRA is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative; and holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).