Nobody knows who is going to pay for the health service offered to Haitian nationals. The lack of mechanisms to get Haitians to pay for the health care they receive in the public hospitals, and the possibility that patients who are victims of malpractice might sue the personnel that provided the care, are among the important aspects revealed as the beginning of the new Social Security System approaches.
Initially, the program will be launched in the Southwest area of the Dominican Republic. Vinicio Lopez and Ana Maria Acosta, the directors of the Barahona and Pedernales hospitals, feel that the Haitians should receive their healthcare for free, like other citizens, but that the responsibility of payment must be discussed by the authorities in order to cover the cost of healthcare. International organizations, the Haitian government, or one of the local state institutions should cover these costs. Haitians account for between 8 to 30 percent of the healthcare dispensed in the hospitals that were visited. Most cases are either maternity or child related, said the directors. However, they clarified, this data is not completely accurate, since many Haitians falsify their nationality and place of residence, in order to receive care. On the other hand, the Law 87-01 that established the new Social Security System stipulates that a patient victimized by malpractice, can sue the doctor and the medical staff. To do this the patient must receive the assistance of one of the Healthcare Provider groups and the Office for the Defense of the Social Security Membership.
BRA partners with the Catholic Medical Mission Board in mobile care
The Batey Relief Alliance [www.bateyrelief.org] partners with the Catholic Medical Mission Board [www.cmmb.org] to recruit North American volunteer licensed health professionals providing desperately needed assistance in general medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, optometry, ophthalmology – and preventive health education around HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, etc. Local health providers in the Dominican Republic and Haiti are scheduled to join the team. The beneficiaries are the impoverished population languishing in sugar cane plantations “bateys,” including Haitian migrants and their families.
Thousands of poverty stricken families live in the bateys without access to basic health care. Those who live in remote rural areas face a more difficult situation. The Batey Relief Alliance (BRA) responded by developing a concept of bringing the care to the people through a mobile clinic. The mobile health program will be in operation starting March 2003.
Organizations such as the Sovereign Order of Malta, Lions Clubs International, New Jersey Eye Glass Recycling Center, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Mission Fund provided most of the funds to purchase the 30-foot mobile clinic. Other contributors and collaborators include the Dominican’s Ministry of Health, Catholic Medical Mission Board, Direct Relief International and Dominican-based Lions Clubs.
Basic health care in the bateys is virtually absent. Most cannot afford it because of money, racial discrimination or fear of deportation. The batey population generally lives in constant struggle without clean water, health education, food, sanitation or electricity. The results are high infant mortality, malnutrition, HIV infections, tuberculosis, malaria, sexually-transmitted diseases, diabetes, hypertension and blindness. Children born of undocumented Haitian parents in the Dominican Republic suffer the worst fate: they have no Dominican birth certificates.
For more information about our mobile care program and how you can make a money donation, please call Ulrick Gaillard at (917) 627-5026. Remember, you can securely donate online at www.bateyrelief.org.