Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Mirta Roses, and the Secreatry of Public Health of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Bautista Rojas Gomez, met to discuss issues related to health care to Haitians victims of the January 12 earthquake. Many Haitians are currently in the Dominican Republic, and most of them receive care in this country's hospitals.
Pictured, from the left: PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses, her Chief of Staff Catherine Cocco, Dr. Merlin Fernández, PAHO/WHO representative in the Dominican Republic, and the Secretary of Health, Dr. Bautista Rojas Gomez.
The Secretary of Health stressed that PAHO/WHO was the first cooperation agency to join the Secretariat in the Emergency Operations Center on Health, immediately after the earthquake, and cited the leadership of the Health Cluster, held by PAHO.
Dominican Republic has care units in Port au Prince, but since the operations have decreased due to the arrival of volunteers from other countries, these teams are being moved to Fond Parisien, Haiti, near the Dominican border, where a hospital is being set up. The Secretary informed that the Secretariat of Public Health (SESPAS) is purchasing 500 wheelchairs and 500 crutches for the rehabilitation of earthquake victims.
SESPAS is ready to assume the demand for routine health services for the Haitian population, including normal and complicated deliveries. The Secretariat is also coordinating a mental health team that is supporting the affected population that reaches Jimaní. In Santo Domingo, 54 Haitian children were treated and are in good health. For the moment, they are staying in a child care center and have begun to be identified by their parents.
The PAHO Director highlighted the willingness to support SESPAS in areas that were identified as prioritary, and said she will strengthen the PAHO/WHO office in the Dominican Republic with specialized external personnel, in order to continue technical cooperation activities offered during normal times.
Dr. Mirta Roses said that PAHO/WHO will support SESPAS in such areas as blood banks (in Haiti and Dominican Republic), rehabilitation of patients—which will be supported by an international consultant specialized in the subject and the contact with international networks, mental health and eye health, among other important issues.
The Director of the Pan American Health Organization emphasized how important it is for the international community to know the unprecedented level of solidarity demonstrated by the Dominican Republic in its support for Haiti.