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Northwestern Medicine Doctor Travels to the Dominican Republic to Help Fight HIV

Photo of Ramona Bhatia, MD

On Monday, October 22, Northwestern Medicine® physician, Ramona Bhatia, MD, will travel to the Dominican Republic for six days as part of a collaboration between Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Center for Global Health, The Global Health Initiative Fund and Project C.U.R.E. Bhatia’s trip will focus on providing continuing education and resources to improve HIV prevention and treatment at a local nonprofit primary care clinic in the town of La Romana in the Dominican Republic’s La Romana province, which also serves as the area’s HIV treatment center.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Dominican affects tens of thousands of individuals,” said Bhatia, who is a clinical research associate for the Institute for Public Health and Medicine and Center for Global Health at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. “While the country has received a lot of aid in the past few years from the international community there is still a great need for medical resources and education.”

Because of this need, the clinic, Clínica de Familia La Romana, has requested assistance in developing a continuing medical education curriculum in HIV for their staff. As part of her October 22-27 visit, Bhatia will train Clinica de Familia’s general care physicians on HIV prevention and treatment methods. Using World Health Organization (WHO) and Dominican national guidelines, she will present lectures to the clinic’s staff on HIV management strategies that are specifically targeted to the community’s needs. Bhatia will also spend time working directly with Project C.U.R.E. to help assess the medical equipment needs of Clinica de Familia and surrounding healthcare facilities.

In previous conversations with Northwestern, Clinica de Familia had expressed interest in hosting Northwestern medical students for clinical and research rotations, so during Bhatia’s visit she will evaluate the clinic as a possible learning site for Northwestern medical students in the future.
 
The Dominican Republic’s La Romana province is also home to Guaymate, a town near Clinica de Familia, which is one of the sites of the Northwestern Access to Health Project. The Access to Health Project is an interdisciplinary health and human rights project that combines students and faculty from Northwestern University Law School's Center for International Human Rights and Northwestern Medicine's Center for Global Health work in parts of the developing world. Each Access to Health Project site is assessed for the public health needs of its community, then supplied with appropriate, sustainable interventions designed to address those specific needs.

“The Access to Health Project is also working with Clinica de Familia, which has active community outreach programs into Guaymate and the surrounding area, making it an important partner in the project,” said Juliet Sorensen, clinical assistant professor of law with the Northwestern University School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights. The Access to Health Project was founded by Sorensen, and is open to Northwestern University Law, Kellogg Business and Master’s in Public Health students who enroll in Sorensen’s health and human rights class. “Our own efforts are also part of the Center for Global Health and align with the purpose of Dr. Bhatia’s trip,” added Sorensen.

During her trip, Bhatia will be taking pictures to document her experience and time with the clinic staff, and we will be regularly posting her photos on Northwestern Memorial’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages with the hashtag #NMGlobalHealth.

Make sure to search the #NMGlobalHealth hashtag October 22-27 to follow her photos and learn more about her journey!

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