Find out How We Help to Improve the Response to Diabetes in Dominican Republic

World Diabetes Day
In November 2014, HHI entered into a two year joint partnership grant with the World Diabetes Foundation, Population Services International (PSI) and the Ministry of Public Health.
We are helping to strengthen the local health care system’s response to diabetes, improving access to diabetes care and providing training for health professionals on diabetes prevention, diagnosis and assistance.

Here’s Why This Matters: 

Non-Communicable Diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, are causing 70% of deaths in the Dominican Republic according to the WHO.
Diabetes is rapidly growing in Dominican Republic (and around the world). In the past ten years diabetes prevalence has more than doubled in the Dominican Republic.

In 1999 only 5.3% of the population in the Dominican Republic had diabetes, and now the World Health Organization estimates that 10.6% of the population suffers from diabetes. This is over 2% higher than the global average, setting off alarm bells, and the number will only continue to rise if action is not taken. 

Often Diabetes goes undetected until it is too late. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 50% of diabetes cases are undiagnosed. This is often due to poverty and lack of access to necessary quality health care.

At a global level, diabetes creates a health crisis that is silently cutting 415 million lives short, three quarters (3/4) of them in low and middle income countries like the Dominican Republic.

Projects like this one funded by the World Diabetes Foundation help local health systems respond more effectively to this global epidemic.

TrainingAs a result of our work thus far in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and PSI, we have seen great results:

  • We have trained 60 medical doctors on diabetes prevention, diagnosis and care
  • The first training manual for Dominican Community Health Workers on diabetes prevention was completed
  • 30 Community Health Workers have been trained using the new manual, with 30 more to be trained in July 2016
  • Trained Community Health Workers have successfully carried out risk factor detection in their communities, using a tool developed by the project, and are referring patients when appropriate (1,378 people assessed for risk factors so far) 
  • Training for 30 nurses on diabetes is planned for July 2016
  • Three hospital labs were provided with machines to test Hemoglobin AIC and training for lab technicians from those three hospitals on the use of the new machines was completed
  • Successful World Diabetes Day 2015 activities carried out in the city of Puerto Plata involving more than 200 people including 6 local schools
  • New educational materials focused on diabetes prevention and awareness have been created collaboratively between PSI, HHI and the Ministry of Public Health (three informational pamphlets focused on prevention are completed and two in process)
  • Successful bi-monthly supportive supervision of 12 primary care centers and three provincial hospitals being carried out in collaboration with the Provincial level Ministry of Public Health has demonstrated an overall improvement of the quality of care
  • Increased successful collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health at the Provincial, Regional and National levels resulting in HHI beinginvited to be a member of the new national level Commission on Chronic Diseases (HHI is one of only two NGOs asked to become members of this national committee)

HHI is excited to be at the forefront of such significant change and progress at the local and national level in the continuing pursuit of improved health care.

Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health means that this progress will remain a part of the national health care system, well beyond when the project is over.

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Farewell to our First International Health Fellow: Lis Ganter Restrepo

All the best, Lis!Lis Ganter Restrepo has played a special role on our team for the past year.

Joining HHI in early July 2015, Lis was our first ever International Health Fellow. This month Lis completed her time with HHI and our team wants to send out a big Thank You!

HHI began the International Health Fellow program to be able to bring on board young professionals who have specific experience and skills who can devote at least one year to volunteer with HHI.

International Health Fellows must be fluent in Spanish, have already completed a Masters degree, and have relevant experience compatible with specific areas of programmatic need to HHI.

DSCF0443Prior to becoming HHI’s first International Health Fellow, Lis graduated with a Masters in Public Health from Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom. She then went on to work as a data analyst for the District Secretary of Health and the National Institute of Health in Colombia, and then worked in Fundraising and Communications for International Child Care Trust in the U.K. She was able to draw on these experiences, as well as her fluency in Spanish, to be able to contribute a lot during her time volunteering with HHI.

Lis worked under and got to learn from Dr. Luis Sosa, HHI’s Program Director, and was able to get hands on experience helping out with HHI’s projects. During her time with HHI Lis helped with planning and carrying out training for Community Health Workers, helped to create promotional materials for HHI’s project with the World Diabetes Foundation, assisted in monitoring and evaluation of various projects, lent a hand during field clinics and helped with HHI’s facebook page, just to name a few of the areas she helped out with!

We are sure that Lis, with her passion for public health, will build successfully on her time with HHI to continue to contribute to making a difference improving health and the health systems through out the world!

We wish you all the best, Lis!

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Have You Met Dr. Pou?

dr.pouOn any given day, you could find Dr. Maria Teresa Pou in one of many locations.

She might be giving leadership to the team of community health workers in HHI’s home base in Montellano.

It’s possible she could be out in the community helping to educate and inspire people to learn how to monitor and advocate for their own health.

Perhaps she could be working alongside the public health team at Hospital Maternidad in Montellano, Puerto Plata.

She’s busy and on a mission.But that’s not the first thing you notice about her. The first thing you actually notice is her commitment to something bigger than herself.

When asked why she is working with Health Horizons International, Dr. Pou’s reply was simple.

“Teamwork. That’s why I love what I do.”

“I believe that true health depends on a whole team and we all play an important part in the story of the treatment of chronic disease.”

“We are not trying to change anything to the way we want it. We are working to collaborate and strengthen what’s possible with the system in place.”

By “we” she is referring to the collaborative partnership between HHI and the local Ministry of Public Health in the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Pou is a family physician. The daughter of a Spanish mother and Dominican father, she was raised in Puerto Plata and went to medical school in Santiago at Hospital Juan XXIII. Before the joining our team in January of 2016, she had spent the previous four years working within the local health system.

Dr. Pou is a welcome member to the growing team, and her passion shows in everything she does.

In particular, Dr. Pou is focused on helping to improve the management of chronic diseases. A large part of this is helping to make life saving processes more available to those lacking access to basic care.

The World Health Organization estimates that 70% of deaths in the Dominican Republic are caused by chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Those are alarming numbers when you consider the consequences for individuals, families and communities.

But numbers are only part of the story. Intentional and strategic leadership are part of the backbone that can change the future for many lives in this country.

hhibannerThe collaborative work between HHI and the government of Dominican Republic is about saving the lives of fathers, mothers and future generations.

It’s about working to ensure that children grow up with the assurance that they are not alone.

It’s also about helping to empower people to take charge of their own health – no matter what their socio economic status is.

In short, it’s about recognizing the value of every single life.

As a supporter of our work here in Dominican Republic, you are a part of that story as well.

You help to make it possible!

Thank you.




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