A large number of Haitian women give birth in Dominican Republic

The border is imaginary. It’s just a door

The high cost that the Dominican Republic health system incurs as a result of the large numbers of Haitian women who migrate illegally with the main intention of giving birth in Dominican hospitals free of charge. In a report on the situation, The Washington Post writes that most migrant women have no papers, but the armed Dominican soldiers guarding the gate dividing the two countries let most of them through.

Across the country, on their half of Hispaniola island, Dominican hospitals and clinics are being overwhelmed by Haitian women.

The border is imaginary. It’s just a door, said Jose Delancer, director of the Dominican Ministry of Health with the Department of Women and Children. It’s a problem of poverty; it’s a problem of education; it’s a problem of empowering of women.

It is also a problem of access. In the Dominican Republic, health care is provided free of charge whether the individual has documentation or not.

Joaquin Recio, vice director of nursing at Hospital General Melenciano, the public hospital in Jimani, said doctors and hospital administrators widely support the policy.

If God has given you this gift to give service to others — this special service, of health — then you have to give it with quality, warmly, with love to whomever, no matter their creed or race, their color, it does not matter, he said. You have to give service to the person. This is what is important.

But that comes up against a harsh reality: The Dominican health-care system is designed to care for about 7 million people, Delancer said. The Dominican Republic has a population of nearly 10 million, and more than a million of them are Haitians, with more coming every day.

Delancer worries about those numbers: How many of them are in reproductive age ? he asked. How many of them need health care ?

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