The right to health: Collaborations in Dominican Republic


by Tim Shenk
Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations

When you arrive at ANDA, you get the sense very quickly that this is no ordinary doctor’s office.

ANDA is at once a clinic, an education center and a community gathering place run by Dr. Angel Pichardo Almonte in Simon Bolivar, one of the most populous neighborhoods in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It’s a central hub for Cornell University students in an eight-week summer service-learning program developed as a collaboration of the Cornell University Global Health Program, CUSLAR and Pichardo.

What hits you first is the color. Explosions of green adorn every corner, and cut flowers brighten every table. Baskets of large and small plants hang from hooks. Palms and ferns dominate the small open-air patio behind the office, and fish and turtles share a pool under a bubbling fountain.

Surrounded by the simple wonder of living things, I feel that ANDA is the kind of place where people come to be renewed, to take strength — to take up their beds, as it were, and walk.

The Cornell-CUSLAR partnership with Pichardo is based in a firm belief in the right to health, as well as a commitment to integrating individual healing and collective transformation. “When someone gets sick,” Pichardo says, “it’s not a failure of the individual. It’s a failure of society.”

He notes that his healing work runs counter to what he refers to as the pharmaceutical industrial complex, which makes the treatment of illness into big business. He believes only broad-based social and economic transformation will make a lasting positive impact on the health and well-being of the majority of humanity, and medical professionals like himself and his students have a key role to play in that transformation.

For more information on this partnership, click here.

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