Short-term global health education programs abroad: Disease patterns observed in Haitian migrant worker communities around la Romana, Dominican Republic

Brian J. Ferrara, Elizabeth Townsley, Christopher R. MacKay, Henry C. Lin, Lawrence C. Loh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


The possibility of encountering rare tropical disease presentations is commonly described as a benefit derived by developed world medical trainees participating in clinical service-oriented short-term global health experiences in the developing world. This study describes the health status of a population served by a short-term experience conducted by a North American institute, and the results of a retrospective review are used to identify commonly encountered diseases and discuss their potential educational value. Descriptive analysis was conducted on 1,024 encounter records collected over four unique 1-week-long trips by a North American institution serving Haitian migrant workers in La Romana, Dominican Republic. The top five diagnoses seen in the clinic were gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hypertension (HTN), upper respiratory infections, otitis media, and fungal skin infection. On occasion, diagnoses unique to an indigent tropical population were encountered (e.g., dehydration, malnutrition, parasites, and infections.). These findings suggest a similarity between frequently encountered diagnoses on a short-term clinical service trip in Dominican Republic and primary care presentations in developed world settings, which challenges the assumption that short-term service experiences provide exposure to rare tropical disease presentations. These findings also represent additional data that can be used to better understand the health and healthcare planning among this vulnerable population of Haitian migrant workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-875
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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