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 Milestone

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

Internet milestone reached, as more than 50 per cent go online: UN telecoms agency

‘Milestones are clear’ for ‘significant progress’ in Somalia during 2019, Security Council hears

Growing up near green space is good for your mental health as an adult

What is behind the wide reach of  fake news about Coronavirus?

European Commission issues first emission of EU SURE social bonds

The Great Reset after COVID-19 must put people first

IMF: All you want to know about Argentina

‘No steps taken’ so far to end Israel’s illegal settlement activity on Palestinian land – UN envoy

Vendor Pulse – 2000

Alarming level of reprisals against activists, human rights defenders, and victims – new UN report

COP24: A million lives could be saved by 2050 through climate action, UN health agency reveals

How COVID-19 is making companies act for the long term

Ferry capsizes near Mosul, UN chief offers solidarity, support ‘as needed’

The economic cost of anti-vaccination movements in Italy

Japan should reform retirement policies to meet challenge of ageing workforce

Young people meet in Malta to shape the future of Europe

‘Break the cycle’ of disaster-response-recovery, urges top UN official, as death toll mounts from Cyclone Idai

COP21 Breaking News_08 December: Cities & Regions Launch Major Five-Year Vision to Take Action on Climate Change

Eurozone: Statistics don’t tell the whole story

How AI can ensure your transition to remote work is equitable

This is the world’s biggest mental health problem – and you might not have heard of it

Students & Allies Unite Globally To Launch #Students_Against_COVID

Eurostat: Real unemployment double than the official rate

EU to spend €6 billion on youth employment and training futile schemes

European Union backs peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with new aid for police reform

Progress toward sustainable development is seriously off-track

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

UN calls for action to tackle ‘ubiquitous but invisible’ global road safety crisis

Parliament approves key directive regulating professional qualifications

UN chief ‘deeply alarmed’ over military offensive in south-west Syria

The hottest new craze for German millennials? Gardening

This Norwegian cruise line plans to power its ships with rotting fish

Human Rights: breaches in Cambodia, Uganda and Myanmar

How carbon-smart farming can feed us and fight climate change at the same time

These are the next big products in consumer technology

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

Tax Inspectors Without Borders making significant progress toward strengthening developing countries’ ability to effectively tax multinational enterprises

Central America: EU increases humanitarian support by €5 million and delivers additional in kind assistance to hurricane victims

InvestEU Fund for sustainable and social investment, MEPs ready for negotiations

How venture capital can transform global health

Monday’s Daily Brief: ‘Horror’ at Notre Dame fire disaster, Yemen still bleeding, measles now ‘global crisis’

We need greater protection for our oceans. We can’t let politics stand in the way

Who should pay for workers to be reskilled?

Sudan: ‘Violence must stop’, says UNICEF chief, ‘gravely concerned’ over 19 child deaths since military backlash

Lebanon: UN rights office calls for de-escalation of protest violence

UN global education envoy urges new funding for ‘lost generation’ of children forced out of classrooms by conflict

144 years on, Universal Postal Union meets to define its 21st Century role

FROM THE FIELD: West Africa’s wishful gold diggers

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

5 ways governments can unleash the power of young entrepreneurs

FROM THE FIELD: Niger supporting the most vulnerable, as crises mount

MEPs to vote on overhaul of road transport rules in July

Why and how Germany had it again its own way in Cyprus

How the great COVID-19 reset can help firms build a sustainable future

The world needs a grand coalition to tackle climate change

The winds of change: 5 charts on the future of offshore power

FROM THE FIELD: facing up to the extreme mental health pressures of conflict

Sherpa climbers carried out the highest-ever spring clean. This is what they found

Guterres censures terrorist attacks in Nigeria, pledges UN ‘solidarity’

Make progress or risk redundancy, UN chief warns world disarmament body

More Stings?

Advertising

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