PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic – Haiti’s Minister of the Interior and Chief of Staff, Thierry Mayard-Paul, representing Haiti’s President Michel Martelly, attended the inauguration of the Rural Clinic of Veron in Punta Cana, the only primary care facility serving the local community, where 60 percent of its patients are Haitians.
Dominican businessman Frank Rainieri, president of Punta Cana Group and whose PUNTACANA Foundation led reconstruction of the clinic, a representative from the Dominican Ministry of Health, as well as the clinic’s medical director, were on hand at the inauguration.
“The Veron clinic is an excellent example of social infrastructure projects that make decentralization a reality,” said Mayard-Paul. “These are the types of projects that we need to promote in Haiti’s heartland so that people can stay in their hometowns, have access to primary social services, and local economies can thrive.”
The populations of Veron and the surrounding communities have grown dramatically in recent years as the region has become one of the Caribbean’s top tourist destinations. Today Punta Cana welcomes five times as many visitors as just five years ago. While the creation of jobs and economic opportunity are positives, the pace of growth far outstripped the capacity of the existing medical and educational facilities. “The clinic is just one element of a holistic program, which seeks to improve the community and the quality of life of all its residents and the surrounding areas,” said Rainieri. “The initiative includes educational, environmental and health programs, and integrates the entire population so we can continue to provide excellent service both to our tourists who feed our families, as well as to our people who take care of them.”
The Rural Clinic of Veron is financed and managed by a private-public partnership, which includes the PUNTACANA Foundation; Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia; the Dominican Ministry of Public Health and Veron’s Neighborhood Association. Mayard-Paul highlighted that these are the type of innovative financing and operation programs that the Haitian government, through the Ministry of the Interior, seeks to put in place “because they integrate all the actors working toward a common goal, shared responsibility and benefits for everyone.”
Mayard-Paul and Rainieri, who is also a member of Haiti’s Presidential Advisory Council on Economic Growth and Investment, also discussed potential cooperation in Haiti to further decentralization, including community and eco-friendly programs in tourism destinations.