Children Are No Longer Dying From Malnutrition In Barahona, Dominican Republic

Barahona Children
In 2008, more than 1 in 20 children under five years of age were dying from preventable causes in the province of Barahona, located in the western region of the Dominican Republic near the Haitian border.

As inconceivable as this sounds, it was true. Extreme poverty and the lack of basic medicines, health and nutrition services resulted in children dying from malnutrition, pneumonia, and dehydration caused by diarrhea.

Caritas Barahona, a local service agency, knew something had to be done to change this situation and save these children. They turned for assistance and expertise to Medicines for Humanity, the non-profit organization with a successful track record of reducing child mortality in some of the most desperate places on the planet. After assessing the challenging circumstances, Medicines for Humanity turned to their long time partner in the Dominican Republic, Players Trust, the charitable foundation of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Together, the three organizations joined to plan and implement a vital project that would save the lives of today’s children in Barahona, and establish a system of nutrition services and access to basic medicines that would enable Caritas Barahona to prevent needless child deaths in the future as well.

In discussing the project’s success… Tim Bilodeau, founder and Executive Director of Medicines for Humanity, explains, “When we started this project, the Diocese of Barahona wasn’t convinced that we could reach our goals. Now they take tremendous pride in what we have accomplished by working together.”

Melissa Persaud, Director of Players Trust continues, “We initiated a nutrition program and established community pharmacies to make basic medicines available 24/7 in the neediest areas in Barahona… providing resources to treat the other killers like pneumonia and diarrhea.”

Manuel Perez, the Director of Caritas Barahona recently met with Tim Bilodeau to celebrate the culmination of this project. He told Tim, “When you came to Barahona five years ago and told us what we could accomplish together… we really thought you were crazy. Now that you have helped make our dreams a reality, we still think you are crazy… but ‘crazy good’… bueno loco! Children in the areas we serve are no longer dying from malnutrition, and we have basic medicines available in self-sustaining botiquines (small pharmacies) staffed by pharmacy aides trained through this program.”

Melissa Persaud summed it up this way, “Players Trust, the Diocese of Barahona, and Medicines for Humanity saw a need, worked in partnership and refused to give up until we reached our goals. Together, we have achieved something extraordinary for families in Barahona. We improved critically needed health services for the children who needed our help the most.”

Players Trust and MFH currently have 4 other projects in the Dominican Republic. Two Mobile Clinic/ Community Health Worker projects serving the bateyes surrounding Consuelo and Quisqueya, a Maternal/Child Health project in La Matas de Farfan, and a Community Health Worker training program called La Loma, based out of San Pedro, in collaboration with the DR Ministry of Health. To read about these Players Trust, Medicines for Humanity, and our work together in these communities, please see Natalie Faragalli's article on the Players Trust site.

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