Small Pharmacies: Lifelines in the Dominican Republic’s Bateyes

Away from the tourist-filled coasts, the interior of the Dominican Republic is marked by severe poverty. In rural villages known as "bateyes," where many Haitian migrant sugar cane workers and low-income Dominicans reside, access to basic necessities and health care is extremely limited. MFH operates in the bateyes around San Pedro de Macorís, bringing crucial health services directly to these underserved communities – health services that can mean the difference between life and death for children under five. One of the ways Medicines for Humanity (MFH) is addressing this need is through our Small Pharmacy Program.

One of the program's core components is training Community Health Workers (CHWs) to manage small pharmacies, or “botiquines”, within their homes. These botiquines provide affordable and accessible medicines to over 150 families in each batey. To date, we have 18 small pharmacies operating.

For many residents, especially during nighttime emergencies, these small pharmacies are vital. The cost and danger of traveling to distant hospitals make immediate local access to medicines essential. By offering affordable medications close to home, the botiquines significantly improve health outcomes and reduce child mortality.

In addition to enhancing health care access, the Small Pharmacy Program economically empowers CHWs. The profits from the pharmacies, combined with business training from MFH, help CHWs better support their families.

Country Coordinator Elisa Avila highlights the Medicines for Humanity’s success, in the DR stating, “I am proud to tell you that during the past few years, no child has died from a preventable illness on the majority of bateyes where MFH has projects.” This achievement underscores the program's life-saving impact.

The Small Pharmacy Program by Medicines for Humanity is a testament to the power of community-driven health initiatives, providing both health and economic benefits to some of the most vulnerable communities in the Dominican Republic.

 

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