By: Ikenna Okoro
InteRDom Correspondent, Ikenna, has recently completed his undergraduate studies in Biology at the University of Miami, Florida and is participating in the 2013 10-week Graduate and Gap Year Program. You can read more about Ikenna and his participation in the Correspondent Program here.
As a research assistant for Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud, I am conducting a study of health system efficiencies in Santo Domingo. To fulfill this goal, I have been shadowing physicians in a neighboring community, La Barquita. The citizens of La Barquita cannot afford and do not live close to major hospitals, therefore access to medical services is difficult. In the program that I am following, a group of resident physicians consult patients at a clinic in La Barquita for a very affordable price.
Although the community is receiving stellar care, the service still faces challenges. For instance, the clinic has lost power during patient visits, and the staff has a limited supply of pharmaceuticals available for the myriad of complications presented each day. I saw different cases from headaches, to tuberculosis, and various injuries.
I enjoyed observing the community dynamics as the physicians and I walked the streets in between running children and games of Vitilla(Youtube can explain). It was tough hearing stories about the houses right by the river that would flood every time there was a heavy rain. The people who live in these houses under the bridge are resilient and refuse to move. As much as one may disagree, one has to respect the pride they show for their homes as symbols of hard work and legacy.
The blog also provides useful information for students and inspires lively debate and increased interest in exchange and the development of Hispaniola.