DR Salud is a student-run medical outreach trip at the University of Florida that travels to the city of San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The DR Salud group is comprised of medical students, pharmacy students, physicians, and pharmacists. While in the Dominican Republic, DR Salud works in conjunction with Dominican medical students from Universidad Catolica Nordestana (UCNE) to provide healthcare and health education to underserved Dominicans.
About Our Trip
DR Salud (Dominican Republic “Health”) is a student-run medical outreach trip at the University of Florida that travels to the city of San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The DR Salud group is comprised of medical students, pharmacy students, physicians, and pharmacists. While in the Dominican Republic, DR Salud works in conjunction with Dominican medical students from Universidad Catolica Nordestana (UCNE) to provide healthcare and health education to underserved Dominicans.
The Spring Break trips serve over 400 patients daily and positively contribute to the health and well-being of impoverished citizens in the area surrounding San Francisco de Macoris. Past DR Salud teams have been recognized for their impact on the community with accolades from the city including commemorative plaques and keys to the city. In addition, we have been warmly invited by the city to continue our medical outreach every year.
DR Salud aspires to provide UF Health Science students with an opportunity to obtain a global perspective on health and medicine. Our work with Dominican medical students fosters strong and sustained international relations between the UF Health Science Center and our overseas partner UCNE. Together, DR Salud provides life-changing experiences not only for the students and attending physicians but also for the citizens we serve.
D.R at a Glance
The Dominican Republic is a country in the Caribbean region and is part of the Greater Antilles archipelago.
It has a population of 10,277,000 and its main language is Spanish. San Francisco de Macoris is one of the cities of the country located on the northeast portion. There are many health disparities in the region because of such things like a lack of medical care, medical supplies, and even water shortages. According to the World Health Organization the average life expectancy at birth is 72/73 years for male/female. The probability of dying before the age of five is 27 per 1,000 births. Blood supplies at both public and private hospitals are often limited, and not all facilities have blood on hand even for emergencies.
According to the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Health, more than 15,000 suspected cases of cholera and 262 related deaths have been reported throughout the country from November 2010 to early 2013. Sexually transmitted diseases are common and the HIV adult prevalence rate is about 1.7%. Dengue fever is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus and is endemic to the Dominican Republic. The virus is mostly spread by several species of mosquitoes so national access and supply of bug repellent would be beneficial to the country. The availability of prescription drugs varies depending upon location and there have been some instances of counterfeit drugs infiltrating the Dominican market. The practice of abortion is illegal in all cases in the Dominican Republic, a ban that includes conceptions following rape, incest, and in situations where the health of the mother is in danger, even if life threatening.
Among the topics already stated, the Dominican Republic also has room for improvement in the areas of smoking and malnutrition. Insufficient food consumption is the major cause of poor growth in children. The underlying causes of malnutrition are not only food supply related but also the sanitation of the food and water given out. The Dominican Republic has made significant progress in improving health indicators and reducing malnutrition over the past decade. The overall prevalence of growth retardation in children under five years of age (height-for-age below -2 standard deviations of a reference distribution) was found to be 8.9 percent, a notable reduction from the previous survey, which found a prevalence of 11 percent in 1996 (1). Despite this, the prevalence of malnutrition varies significantly by age group, with the highest proportion in 2002, 12.1 percent, found among children aged 12 to 24 months. There is still much room left for improving the country’s nutrition, especially for the infant generation (1).
Smoking is very popular in the Dominican Republic and is more of a cultural phenomenon than an individual choice. Most of the citizens are not aware of the specific diseases and complications related to smoking but just know it is not the best choice for one’s health. There is a lack of education and advertisement related to quitting smoking and most citizens only quit out of personal will or because of a serious health crisis. Social smoking is normal among family, friends, and acquaintances. Despite the economic gains from selling tobacco, there needs to be a greater awareness of the health risks associated with smoking (2).
By Marta Olenderek, MS3
1) Wilde, Parke. “Atlas of Hunger and Malnutrition in the Dominican Republic.” Atlas of Hunger and Malnutrition in the Dominican Republic. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, 01 Apr. 2007. Web. 15 Oct. 2013
2) Dozier AM, Ossip-Klein DJ, Diaz S, Chin NP, Sierra E, Quinones Z Dye TD, McIntosh S, Armstrong L. Tobacco use in Dominican Republic: Understanding the culture first. Tobacco Control. 2006, 15:30-36.
Our trip is completely run by medical students and funded by their fundraising efforts. All donations are tax-deductible. Click here for an Online Giving link and other Fundraising Information.
Our team of volunteers are looking forward to serving the people of the Domincan Republic
While in the Dominican Republic, we hold daily clinics in areas surrounding the city of San Francisco de Macoris. We work with Dominican medical students from the Universidad Católica Nordestana (UCNE) to provide preventative care, treatment, and health education to our patients.