The DRMP is constantly monitoring and evaluating our efforts in the Dominican Republic. We work closely with Dominican organizations and others to ensure that their efforts match the felt needs of the community.
Quinci’s Kids: The Quinci Cartmell Batey Children’s Health Program
Collaboration with Fundación Enciende Una Luz
Families living in the impoverished villages among the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic face many challenges. The small children are especially vulnerable to the effects of poor nutrition and limited access to health care.
DRMP of Village Church collaborates with Fundación Enciende Una Luz (Light a Candle Foundation) to monitor the growth of the children and help those dealing with malnutrition and related health issues. Their families receive counseling on good practices in nutrition and prevention of illness. Many times, just changing the practices contributes to a child’s improved growth.
The children discovered with significant problems receive special interventions such as pediatric referrals, needed medications and sometimes emergency food assistance to be followed by a long term plan to empower the families to sustain good nutrition for the children.
Our local "Health Promoters" in these villages also play a role in supporting the families and serving as a health resource to them. Training is provided to the promoters to improve their capacity as health resources.
Health Promoter Program
The Health Promoter program is a DRMP-initiated program that has now been adopted by the Good Samaritan Hospital. This program supports one “Health Promoter” in each batey and provides them with training, supplies, and a small stipend that allows them to serve as a constant health and medical resource for their community. Health Promoters assist with such areas as medication distribution, family planning, and general health counseling. Since the inception of this program, we have seen the health promoters become respected members of their community, and we’ve seen changes in their communities as the promoters disseminate the information they learn to their families and neighbors.
The Health promoters also play a prominent role in much of the work of the DRMP. They secure locations for our medical, clinics, alert their communities to our arrival date(s), and assist with follow-up care for patients seen by multiple teams.
Through the Light a Candle Foundation, physicians and other trained staff members weigh and measure the children, record and interpret data on growth charts, provide counseling, report data and make recommendations for child health promotion to DRMP.
The DRMP utilizes a curriculum of growth monitoring from the World Health Organization. Correct ages are calculated and correct techniques are employed for weighing and measuring height. This data is recorded on WHO growth charts over time to observe positive or negative trends of growth for each child. Growth problems are identified using WHO growth standards. One-on-one counseling is provided for the parent(s) of each child with a growth problem. General community education is also provided to larger groups of parents during the batey visits.
One of the most universally recognized problems in childhood nutrition is lack of diversity in the diet. Often growth problems can be addressed by increased understanding and implementation of good practices by the parents.
Through this DRMP nutrition program, families are counseled about the importance of a diverse daily diet, including foods from the protection group (yellow, green, orange fruits and vegetables), from the energy group (rice, potatoes, bread) and growth/strength group (eggs, milk, chicken, beans). Often a neighbor may have a chicken who lays eggs and there may be a nearby tree that yields mangoes or avocados. If parents understand the essential need for these foods, it is often feasible to incorporate these foods into their child’s diet even within limited resources.
We also offer educational programming related to optimal breast feeding practices, such as exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and patient supervision of the toddler while eating are also presented to the parents.
All of our nutrition programs include emphasis on good hygiene practices such as the three critical times to wash your hands; the various options for purifying your water; and handling your food safely to reduce disease.
In serious cases, the Light a Candle team will work with the local Health Promoter and families to develop the most appropriate plan of intervention for children with severe growth problems.
Malnutrition and illness are often a vicious cycle. A malnourished child gets sick more often. A child who is sick does not eat well. These conditions may perpetuate a child’s growth problems. Children with severe growth problems may need a referral to a pediatrician who provides a physical exam, and possible lab work and medication.
Occasionally a family will require emergency food assistance to stabilize the growth of a child. This assistance is always followed by a conversation with the family, promoter and team to explore ways that the family might be able to develop a sustainable plan to earn the income needed to provide adequate nutrition for their family.
Happy Hearts: The Clymer Family Batey Hypertension Program
Each of our medical clinics offers a hypertension station, where patients with high blood pressure are shown a short educational video (in both Spanish and Kreole) on the ill-effects of hypertension. The patients are given a three-month supply of hypertension medication.
The DRMP, in collaboration with Light A Candle Foundation, monitors these patients consistently throughout the year to ensure they are receiving the best quality of care. The data collected from the last two years shows that 40% of patients that the DRMP monitors have reached healthy levels of blood pressure.