A challenge for inclusion in the Dominican Republic’s health care services

dominican republic

Dominican Republic (Dirk Sebregts, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. María Cedeño and Ms. Lia Patricia Reyes Santos, two third-year medical student sat the Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


“Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender” – Tim Cook

Since our first year of medical school in the Dominican Republic (DR), we noticed that topics related to sex, sexuality, and gender were considered a taboo. These three concepts are closely associated to the biological characteristics, behavioral, and social connotations of what is considered feminine and masculine, respectively (1). In the DR, no specific study has reported the percentage of individuals who belong to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex + (LGBTQI+) community. However, this growing community creates great controversy in the country, as religious beliefs are rooted in the cultural and political framework, leading to behaviors of rejection, violence, and discrimination to the LGBTQI+ community (2, 3).

Recognizing this social stigma and considering the role of the physician as an impartial entity facing sexual orientation, the following question arises: do DR physicians have guidelines on how to care for the specific needs of their LGBTQI+ patients? The answer is no. As medical students, we find this disturbing because Dominican doctors are unprepared to approach and treat the health priorities and needs of these patients. Although medical care relies on evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, some members of the medical community may still be influenced by moral principles that are governed by conservative perspectives. For this reason, medical students and residents can lead this new paradigm in clinical care by emphasizing objectivity in doctor-patient relationships and respect the diversity within our patient population, including sexual orientation, culture, religion, and perspectives.

To address this situation, the medical community must empower medical students and physicians to separate personal ideologies from their medical practice, sticking to the Hippocratic oath. Second, medical students can provide information for the medical community that explains the rise of this community’s rise to help create an environment of inclusion. Finally, they can promote continued education on existing public policies, and initiatives that promote gender equality, such as Article 39 of the Constitution of the DR (4).

Changing the social paradigm on sensitive topics is not a simple task. For this reason, we should focus on our leadership to make sustainable changes within our communities. We are being trained in the medical discipline to have an open conscience, ethics related to serving our patients as integral beings, without stigma, prejudice, and categorization. The measures we take today will determine whether or not the future generations will be more tolerant and inclusive. Since these results have a long-term projection, we must promote this call to action now for real change within our communities.

References

  1. General direction for advocacy and divulgation on human rights. Sexuality and gender. There are no formulas for living, different options exist [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2019 Jun 20]. United Nations Population Fund. Available from: https://venezuela.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/C4%20La%20sexualidad%20y%20el%20genero.pdf
  2. Betances E. Catholic church and politics in Latin America. 2nd ed. Santo Domingo: Funglode; 2017.
  3. United Nations Human Rights Council. Summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21 [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2019 Jun 20]. Universal Periodic Review. Available from: https://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session18/DO/A_HRC_WG.6_18_DOM_3_Dominican%20Republic_E_iDrits.doc&action=default&DefaultItemOpen=1
  4. Supreme Court of Justice, Dominican Republic. Constitution of the Dominican Republic [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2019 Jun 20]. Available from: https://www.poderjudicial.gob.do/documentos/PDF/constitucion/Constitucion.pdf

About the authors

María Cedeño is a third-year medical student at the Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She serves as an active member of the Standing Committee on Public Health (SCOPH) of ODEM-Dominican Republic. She also serves as coordinator of the UNIBE Neurology and Neurosurgery Interest Group (NEUROX), and as an active member of the UNIBE Hematology and Oncology Interest Group (GHEMOU).

Lia Patricia Reyes Santos is a third-year medical student at the Iberoamerican University (UNIBE) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She serves as an active member of the Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health  (SCORA) of ODEM-Dominican Republic. She also serves as coordinator of the UNIBE Hematology and Oncology Interest Group (GHEMOU), and as an active member of the UNIBE Neurology and Neurosurgery Interest Group (NEUROX).

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The EU Diplomacy in North Korea promotes peace or war?

The Chinese retail revolution is heading west

UN health agency spotlights stalled effort to close health divide across Europe, in new report

State aid: Commission approves €520 million Italian scheme to compensate the trade fairs and congress sector for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak

COVID-19 vaccines: EU must respond with unity and solidarity

Financial transactions tax gets go ahead

This company lets you set your own salary

The different ways of care: Is there a general rule to follow?

EU Trade Ministers come together in a desperate attempt to save TTIP

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Tunisia coastline in need of climate cash boost

Mental health in the context of a pandemic: social distance

Why is black plastic packaging so hard to recycle?

Logo Mania: A call to action to our crisis of connection

These 5 foods are under threat from climate change

EU economic governance: More exploitation for the weaker countries

The next talent opportunity for the digital workplace? Neurodiversity

An economist explains how to go carbon neutral in our lifetime

Deaths from far-right terrorism have more than tripled in the West

The cost of dying

What Europe’s SMEs need to do for a cyber-secure future

How long will people live in the future?

Insurer CEOs Reveal Marketing Strategies that Communicate the True Value of Insurance Products & Services to the Customer

UNESCO lists wrestling, reggae and raiho-shin rituals as global treasures to be preserved

In Mozambique, it’s ‘a matter of the heart’ says Guterres, lauding the cyclone-struck nation’s ‘undeniable moral authority’

China in My Suburbs

Coronavirus: Commission launches data sharing platform for researchers

Environment and health at increasing risk from growing weight of ‘e-waste’

Health spending set to outpace GDP growth to 2030

Aviation Strategy for Europe: Commission signs landmark aviation agreements with China

The impact of mobile and rapid digital adoption on how India consumes

Coronavirus: Commission adopts new exceptional support measures for the wine sector

Europe eyes to replace US as China’s prime foreign partner

Women in leadership: closing the gender gap in medicine

UN launches plan to promote peace, inclusive growth in Africa’s Sahel

Libya on verge of civil war, threatening ‘permanent division’, top UN official warns Security Council

Global public-private collaboration tackles cybersecurity skills gap

Finland is a world leader in clean energy. Here’s what’s driving its success

Iceland’s slowdown underlines the need to fix structural issues

The new era of Matriarchy?

UN political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela; Security Council divided over path to end crisis

How to create a world where healthcare is a right, not a luxury

Accelerating a more sustainable industrial revolution with digital manufacturing

EU Budget 2021 deal: supporting the recovery

Blockchain is not a magic bullet for security. Can it be trusted?

6 ways data sharing can shape a better future

Millions of Afghans have ‘voted not just for a president, but also for democracy’, UN Assembly told

Doctors are humans too: the benefits of embracing your mental status

‘No shortcuts to a healthier world’: WHO chief sets out health priorities for the decade

G7 summit: Trump Vs. G6 leaders on trade and climate change

How China Mended My Heart

How AI can accelerate the search for treatments for emerging and intractable diseases

European Union disenchanted with Turkey

These are the biggest hurdles on the path to clean energy

UN chief welcomes possibility of resumed talks between US and North Korea

Global Trade Identity can be the cornerstone of paperless trade

Sahel and Central Africa: €210 million in EU humanitarian aid

Innovative finance tools could protect cities from climate change

The DNA of the future retail CEO

EU adopts new €100 million assistance package to benefit refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

Strict alcohol laws which cut intake more than 40 per cent in Russia, linked to historically high life expectancy

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s