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Dominican Republic

About the Dominican Republic

Best known to tourists for beautiful beaches, resorts and destination golf courses, the Dominican Republic is located in the heart of the Northern Caribbean on the island of Hispaniola, occupying the eastern 2/3 of the island with Haiti to the west. 

The Dominican Republic is a middle income country with a growing economy and the number of people living in poverty declining.  Despite this growth, nearly a third of the adult population still earns less than $100 USD per month.

The Need

While there are several public hospitals that address basic medical care and some surgical needs for children in the country, the volume of need dwarfs the available resources or expertise to effectively treat babies and children born with any variety of common congenital abnormalities. Neurosurgery and cardiac surgery are among the leading diagnostic and surgical needs for the children of the Dominican Republic. 

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How World Pediatric Project Helps

World Pediatric Project bridges the gap in access to pediatric specialist care for children throughout the country. To meet the large volume of need, WPP currently directs much of its assistance to neurosurgery and cardiac diagnostic screenings and cardiac surgery as well as supporting indigenous training in both of these pediatric subspecialties.

Transformation 2023 Goal:
  • Expand WPP's current reach of children needing advanced medical care by 75%
Mobilization of Surgical, Diagnostic & Medical Specialty Teams
WPP teams currently scheduled to travel to the Dominican Republic include:
  • Neurosurgery
  • Cardiac Catheterization & Cardiac Surgery
Patient Referral Program
For patients requiring more complex or urgent surgical care, WPP coordinates treatment through a network of United States and international partner hospitals.  Approximately 5-10 children from the Dominican Republic receive services through this program each year.

Children of the Dominican Republic: Yonalfrin, age 12, Orthopedic (Scoliosis)
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Born with congenital scoliosis, Yonalfrin's mother first noticed something was wrong when he was a toddler. He underwent surgery at age 3 but as he grew, Yonalfrin desperately needed surgery to correct the progression of his spine, which was beginning to crush his lungs. Through a combination of halo device as well as multiple spine surgeries, Yonalfrin returned home this spring to the Dominican Republic able to stand tall and breath deeper than ever before.
Training Programs
Training programs build local infrastructure and capacity needed to build a brighter and healthier future for children.  Current programs in the Dominican Republic include:

Cardiac Surgery Training Program 
Now more than a decade in progress, World Pediatric Project’s Dominican Hearts training initiative has successfully helped the local Dominican cardiac team at CEDIMAT Hospital in Santo Domingo develop the skills and build a comprehensive pediatric cardiac program. This broad training and infrastructure investment plan began with a business plan outlining how WPP could get a local team who completed four very simple heart surgeries in 2005 to performing more than 200 very complex open heart surgeries per year today. While WPP and its partners continue to send fewer and smaller training teams down and make investments in equipment, the Dominican team led by Dr. Juan Leon-Wyss independently performs complex surgeries every day. This program has been met with great success by all of the Dominican partners who prioritized heart care for children.

Neurosurgery Training Program
WPP’s Charlotte-based neurosurgery team not only leads the diagnostic and surgical outreach each year to Robert Reid Cabral Hospital but also supports continuing training to the chief of pediatric neurosurgery and the surgical residents who are eager to expand their diagnostic and surgical knowledge and experience. The WPP team provides ongoing training in surgical techniques, operating room team coordination and post-operative care.
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Partnerships in the Dominican Republic

The effectiveness of WPP programs are strengthened through partnerships within the country and with other organizations committed to the goal of improving access to pediatric specialist care for Dominican children.

Program Partners
  • Ministry of Health
  • CEDIMAT Hospital
  • Hospital Infantil Robert Reid Cabral
  • David Ortiz Children’s Fund
  • Fundación Juan Luis Guerra
  • Variety Children’s Lifeline
  • Heart Trust 
  • Heartcare International
  • Rotary Gift of Life
  • United States Embassy
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