CDC Collaborations with the Ministry of Health in Dominican Republic Result in Measurable Public Health GainsPosted on by
For a relatively small country where CDC established a full-time country office only five years ago, the Dominican Republic is suddenly drawing attention.
It’s easy to see why. The Dominican Republic is a popular vacation destination with 1.4 million Americans visiting each year. The country has a unique relationship with its neighbor, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where CDC also supports many programs.
Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Kenyon, Director of CDC’s Center for Global Health and Dr. Debbi Birx, who leads CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDs visited the Dominican Republic to review, with Dominican authorities, CDC programs to protect public health. Kenyon and Birx are the highest level CDC officials to visit the DR since CDC’s country office officially opened in 2009.
During their visit Jan. 9-11, Drs. Kenyon and Birx visited San Cristobal Hospital and ventured to Little Haiti in the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, to meet with a non-government organization that works with Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. They also spent time with the country’s public health leaders, including Dr. Hidalgo Nuñez, the Minister of Health in the Dominican Republic, and with the newly arrived U.S. Ambassador, James W. Brewster.
This week, Dr. Nuñez is visiting CDC’s main campus in Atlanta and meeting with senior agency officials, including Director Dr. Tom Frieden. The Minister’s visit provides an opportunity to discuss public health priorities for the Dominican Republic and the United States. Topics will include collaboration on HIV/AIDS and other diseases of public health importance ranging from non-communicable diseases, infectious disease outbreaks, road safety, and travelers’ health. The Minister will also tour the Emergency Operations Center.
While each visit is a distinct and separate event, they both highlight some of the impressive work being done in the Dominican Republic as part of a close partnership with CDC. The collaboration has achieved remarkable progress against HIV/AIDS and other diseases in just a few years. In 2013 all 77 HIV clinics in the Dominican Republic adopted the use of ART cards and an electronic reporting tool to track treatment and clinical follow-up of more than 30,000 people living with HIV. In addition, Provincial Health Departments have contributed to the development of a patient-level electronic notifiable disease reporting system, quantifying the burden of disease in the Dominican Republic. CDC has also assisted the Ministry of Health to strengthen their laboratory capacity. The first country in Latin America to go through the Strengthening Laboratory Management Accreditation (SLMTA) process, 16 laboratories in the Dominican Republic have completed the SLMTA steps, achieving measurable improvement in the quality of laboratory work.
The collaborations developed by the CDC-Dominican Republic office reach beyond the Dominican Republic to address regional issues in public health. CDC-Dominican Republic works with the CDC Central America Regional Office in Guatemala and the CDC Caribbean Regional Office in Barbados, to coordinate and respond to public health issues in both regions. CDC actively supports bi-national public health efforts between the Dominican Republic and Haiti to address four priority diseases: cholera, HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.
In the four years since becoming CDC’s Country Director in the Dominican Republic I have been impressed by the progress made with our Dominican colleagues. It is also exciting to see the increased public health capacity that the Dominican Republic is employing to assist public health programs in other countries in the region.