Building Healthier Communities in the Dominican Republic Solving educational, social and healthcare issues in Las Malvinas

Contrary to popular belief, the characteristics of human health are not solely based on physical and mental components. Dr. Arelis Moore de Peralta in the Department of Languages and the Department of Youth, Family and Community Studies leads her Building Healthier Communities in the Dominican Republic Creative Inquiry team in taking action to identify and combat communal health problems.

(Top) Focus group interviews. (Bottom) The neighborhood of Las Malvinas.

Lower income communities in the Dominican Republic are often faced with high illiteracy rates, lack of higher education opportunities and poor public health systems. The community of Las Malvinas is no stranger to these issues. Moore de Peralta and her team are working to revise the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) healthy communities program Community Health Assessment and Group Evaluation (CHANGE) to operate in less developed countries. The team’s goal is to expand their knowledge of the hazards there in order to identify potential solutions.

Clemson and UNIBE Students on their way to Las Malvinas.
Trash and stagnant water in Las Malvinas.
Stagnant Water in Las Malvinas.
Students playing games with local children outside of Las Malvinas.
UNIBE Students that helped survey in Las Malvinas.
UNIBE and Clemson.

The Creative Inquiry group is collaborating with agencies from the Dominican Republic to address these issues. Academic, governmental and non-governmental groups in Las Malvinas have partnered with this Creative Inquiry team to combat environmental and health concerns in the community. A local university in Santo Domingo,

Universidad Iberoamericana, works with Moore de Peralta’s Creative Inquiry team by helping translate and adapt survey questions to the Las Malvinas community. Clemson GIS Services also helps the team by finding and mapping areas of stagnant water or trash buildup in the community. Representatives from the Dominican Department of Health are contemplating establishing a primary health clinic within the community. “Building healthy communities needs a holistic approach that understands the economic, political and familial factors there. That variety of factors requires a variety of expertise, thus a multidisciplinary approach,” Moore de Peralta said. The CDC is using the team’s adaptation of the CHANGE protocol in other countries like Zambia as the Dominican Republic model is now as a case study in the CDC training manual.

(Top) Conducting the Survey. (Bottom) Snacks for the children.
Education and recreational activities with the children.
“After visiting Las Malvinas, I keep myself reminded that what I’m doing in the classroom is for the benefit of people.” - Chloe Schockling, junior health science major

In the future, the team hopes to utilize the ecological area surrounding Las Malvinas as a source of revenue for the community through tourism as well as continue to visit the country every spring break. “After visiting Las Malvinas, I keep myself reminded that what I’m doing in the classroom is for the benefit of people,” Chloe Schockling, a junior health science major, said.

Article by Jason Erno

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