Public Health and Research

A commitment to public health research and collaboration with the Dominican health system is necessary in order to address the underlying causes of health and illness. Our goal in taking a public health approach is to reduce morbidity and mortality due to the dual burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases in communities across the Dominican Republic.

We work to mitigate and prevent chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancers, through early detection, community engagement, and self-care. We implement innovative, cost-effective prevention programs, including “Sano y Feliz,” a support group program that helps people who have been diagnosed with, or are at risk for, chronic diseases to incorporate healthy eating, exercise, and medication management strategies into their lifestyles. We train community health workers and other local leaders as facilitators of these community-based programs.

We work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and local health care providers to leverage scarce resources and prevent duplication of efforts in addressing both ends of the epidemiological transition — from heart disease and diabetes, to cholera and dengue fever. We collaborate on public health awareness campaigns, and work to influence the national conversation about chronic disease prevention, treatment, and management, to ensure that patient outcomes are at the center of national strategy. We also work in partnership with communities to improve necessary public health infrastructure, such as access to potable water and sanitation. We are on the front lines of public health, and support rapid response to priorities and emergencies when they arise.

We conduct formative and participatory research on public health issues, to inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of community-based health interventions. Past research projects have included a survey of metabolic syndrome risk factors in our four partner communities; a study of factors affecting medication adherence among patients in our Chronic Care Program; a community mapping project using GIS technology; and an investigation of attitudes and practices surrounding potable water access. Read the final reports from some of our past research projects here.

To ensure that our programs have a long-term impact on public health, we prioritize monitoring and evaluation at all stages of our work.  We analyze our patient health outcomes data; systematically solicit feedback from patients, community health workers, and volunteers; incorporate technology to increase our capacity for data collection and analysis; and engage in constant re-evaluation and adaption of our work to account for new information and findings.