Latin America: Dominican Republic


The Dominican Republic (DR) is a small country in the Caribbean that shares half the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Visited by Columbus on his first voyage in 1492, Hispaniola became the strategic base for the Spanish conquest of the West and the center of a flourishing slave trade. The DR became independent from Spain and Haiti in 1844, but faced a succession of governments. In 1966, Joaquin Balaguer began a 30-year period as president. The DR now has regular elections.
The DR's population of 8.9 million is a blend of Spanish, African, Caucasian and native Taino. With a per capita GDP of $6,767, the DR is a middle-income developing country with one of the fastest growth rates in the western hemisphere. The currency is the peso. The DR depends on agriculture and tourism revenues, and is a major source of talented baseball players for the US.
About 95% of the population is Roman Catholic, and the national language is Spanish. Dominicans enjoy the pulsating beat of merengue music, and love to dance. Periodic hurricanes and floods have been known to devastate the DR's beautiful landscape.

Hemophilia in the Dominican Republic
There are an estimated 500 people living with hemophilia in the Dominican Republic. However, only 255 of those affected have been identified and registered. Local hemophilia centers care for those who have been identified. Sadly, factor concentrates, the mainstay of treatment, are expensive and remain beyond the reach of most Dominicans who live with hemophilia. The government does not purchase factor.
Healthcare in the DR largely remains a private responsibility. The majority of hemophilia patients in the DR are poor and depend on receiving either free factor or substituting it with treatment using plasma. FAHEM was formed in 1996 to serve the needs of those affected by hemophilia.