Providing maternal and child care with scarce resources

Reports from the GNU meeting by NZNO president Grant Brookes

Delegates to the Global Nurses United (GNU) meeting in the Dominican Republic visited San Lorenzo De Los Mina, a hospital in a deprived suburb of the capital, Santo Domingo. There we talked with nursing and medical staff. 

Established in 1974, San Lorenzo provides advanced maternity and child health care through a range of secondary and tertiary services, with limited limited financial and human resources. 

The hospital specialises in the treatment of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and maternal HIV transmission. Nurse-led programmes include post-discharge follow-up care for teenage mothers. 

The Dominican Republic is an indebted, middle-income country with a population of 10 million and a two tier, public/private health system. 

Last year, the government spent 2.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on debt repayments and just 1.8 percent of GDP on public health services. There are only three nurses per 10,000 population, compared with more than a hundred for every 10,000 people in New Zealand. 

The Dominican nurses union, which hosted the GNU meeting, is campaigning to raise health spending to five percent of GDP. 

Despite the scarce health resources, the Republic’s public hospitals also provide healthcare to people visiting from its more impoverished neighbour, Haiti. 

First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, September 2019. Reposted with permission. 

Related coverage:

‘Building global ties’

‘Nurse/patient ratios under the spotlight at GNU’

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