Prospective Students

Public Health Applications in Developing countries is a 3 credit elective course offered by the Health Systems and Policy Department of the School of Public Health. The field component of the course, a part of the Dominican Republic Outreach Project, consists of a one week stay on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic where students and faculty work in Haitian bateyes and extremely poor Haitian and Dominican communities.

Course Prerequisites

Students must receive permission from their faculty advisor and Dr. Lois Grau or Dr. Bernadette West) prior to course registration. If students will miss a class session(s) of another course(s) due to the trip, they must obtain written permission to do so from the faculty course director(s). The class is limited to 11 students.

Course Description

Students participate in a series of planning meetings prior to the trip to coordinate trip activities and contributions. In addition, students read assigned books and articles in preparation for the trip. Although each trip differs somewhat detail, students participate in de-worming programs, health education, food distribution and primary care programs. On their return, they are required to complete a research or service project. Please see the course syllabus for further information.


Students pay tuition for the course as well as the costs of airfare, room and board. These costs vary depending on the trip. Airfare varies between $400 to $500, depending on the season and time of ticket purchase. We fly on Continental airlines from Newark Liberty International Airport directly to Puerto Plata.  These are direct flights with a flight time of just over 3 hours. Housing costs are approximately $150 to $170 for the one week stay. Students may purchase and cook their own food or go to local restaurants.

Living Arrangements

Students stay in Costambar, a small international and Dominican community located to the west of Puerto Plata. We generally rent one of two facilities, Casa Obear, a large single family home ,or Loase, a bed and breakfast type hotel. Students typically share rooms. Both facilities are clean, but not fancy. Each has a small pool. Transportation: We rent an 11 passenger van and driver for the week of the trip as well as use Dr. Grau's car. Transportation to and from the airport is included as well as daily transport to the various bateyes, pueblos and other sites we visit.

Trip Activities

The trip includes visits to Haitian bateys and extremely poor Haitian communities. We provide parasite control medication to adults and children, as well as follow individuals that have been placed on medication or require follow up for other reasons. Other activities vary depending upon the time of year and needs of the people. For example, we often provide health education classes in a Haitian school that is attended by some of the orphans we support ("Blanco's Kids"). We have also traveled to rural Dominican schools to provide parasite information and medication. In 2009, we began hypertension screening programs. In January 2010, we undertook a vaccine program for Blanco's Kids.  One day of the trip is devoted to a beach party for the children where they participate in art and craft projects and we monitor their health status and update their medical records.

Students are given at least one-half free day to visit local beaches or other tourist sites.

Conditions in the Dominican Republic

The trip is not for everyone. Housing conditions are adequate but not luxurious. There is no or limited air conditioning. Generally, this is not a problem due to the trade winds and temperate climate. However, in the summer and spring it can be extremely hot in the bateyes where we often work in small airless churches or schools. When it rains, the paths in the bateyes turn into muddy rivers. There are no toilettes in the bateyes and the facilities we use at gas stations cannot be spoken highly of. We work as a team so that flexibility, patience and good humor are needed and valued.