First Lady Office and NYU to work together to eradicate HPV
Big traffic fines not being applied
Attorney General rules for blood transfer to Jehovah’s Witnesses baby
Teenage mom recovers her baby
El Dia: Have we gone mad?
Quirinito case shows lack of controls in local judiciary
Holy See defrocks priest who was cleared of charges by a Constanza court
Dominican invents AI device to predict disease outbreaks
World class volleyball at the Olympic Center
Comedy at Palacio Bellas Artes

First Lady Office and NYU to work together to eradicate HPV
First Lady Candida Montilla was in New York City for the signing of an agreement with New York University (NYU) to develop preventive women’s health programs, including education, early detection diagnostics, breast and cervical cancer treatment and of human papillomavirus, as announced by the Presidency.

Cheryl Healton, director of the College of Global Public Health at NYU, and First Lady Candida Montilla signed the agreement. At the event, the First Lady was accompanied by the technical coordinator of the First Lady Office, Martha Rodríguez, Ambassador Miguel Reyes Sánchez, and Dominican consul in New York, Carlos Castillo.

New York University reported that on 20 September 2017, the memorandum of understanding about human papillomavirus (HPV) prevention was officially signed. NYU College of Global Public Health states that the partnership focuses on effective prevention and complete viral eradication.

In the Dominican Republic, HPV is the second most prevalent preventable cause of cancer deaths among women of reproductive age (18-45 years) and it is the number one cause of years of potential life lost for women due to cancer.

With so many lives at stake, nearly two years ago, Dr. Cheryl Healton, Dean of NYU GPH, encouraged the GPH Director of Global Women's Health, Dr. Tara Shirazian, to establish a GPH HPV Task Force with several of its faculty, including Dr. Danielle Ompad, Erica Jean Lieberman, Nancy Van De Vanter and Natalia Frias from the DR. Starting in April 2017, approximately 110,000 nine- and ten-year-old girls were vaccinated, which represented half of the girls in this age group, and another wave of vaccinations is scheduled to occur in late October 2017.

The university experts and public health officials in the Dominican Republic concur that more must be done to educate the public, however, as misinformation about HPV is prevalent, and many - especially on social media - associate HPV vaccination with encouraging early sexual activity or implying that children are sexually active, causing parents to opt out of the vaccine.

The meeting of First Lady Candida Montilla and the signing of the NYU agreement is seen as a step to correct misinformation. With the co-leadership from the First Lady, key local agencies, the Huntsman Cancer Center and GPH, a follow up meeting has been scheduled to convene in November 2017 to share experiences thus far with the HPV efforts and move ahead to institutionalize the effort. The result sought is the eventual near eradication of cervical cancer. Screening is stated to be key if initiatives of the co-partnership are to reach many who are at risk of cervical cancer in the country in a timely manner.

Big traffic fines not being applied
Despite the passing of new Traffic Law 63-17 in February 2017, the magistrate for the department of motor vehicles, Amauri Marcos Martínez explains that the implementation of the law has been delayed. He said the fines for traffic violations that would have increased to more than RD$5,117 for running a red light from RD$1,300 at present as established in old Law 241, cannot be applied until the ruling for the law is passed. He did not announce a timeline for the passing of the ruling.

During a talk at the headquarters of the People’s Defendant (Defensor del Pueblo), Martinez said the most common traffic violations are running red lights, not using seat belts and talking on a mobile device while driving.

Attorney General rules for blood transfer to Jehovah’s Witnesses baby
Physicians attending to a premature baby girl born to two parents who are Jehovah’s Witnesses appealed to the judiciary to make a ruling that would allow physicians to give the premature baby a blood transfusion. The parents had denied the transfusion on grounds their religion did not allow this.

The 15-day baby girl presented complications that required the medical transfusion to treat the macrocytic class of anemia and acute bacterial process. When the parents denied the treatment for their infant, the medics appealed to the Attorney General who authorized the medical procedure be carried out against the wishes of the patient’s parents. The parents then had to accept the decision of the Children’s Court that ordered the Santiago clinic to preserve the life of the child.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Bible prohibits ingesting blood and that Christians should not accept blood transfusions or donate or store their own blood for transfusion. The belief is based on an interpretation of scripture that differs from that of other Christian denominations. The Jehovah’s Witnesses say that both the Old and New Testaments clearly command them to abstain from blood. (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10; Deuteronomy 12:23; Acts 15:28, 29)

Teenage mom recovers her baby
15-year old single mom Winifer Cruz of Los Alcarrizos, Santo Domingo province, has recovered her newborn baby. The baby had been kidnapped from the Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia Maternity. The Police were able to recover the baby due to descriptions of the suspect and a lead by an anonymous caller.

The Police recovered the baby from 25-year old Yohanni Martinez, a resident in Villa Mella. El Dia reports that the woman was affected by the death of her own newborn at the center and had cared for the baby as if it were her own. The baby was named Milagros Wisleyni. Cruz said she never lost hope she would be reunited with her baby.

El Dia: Have we gone mad?
El Día newspaper compiles five recent emblematic headline-making cases and asks if Dominicans gave gone nuts.

The cases are:
1) Odebrecht after admitting to paying bribes for contract work in the country is demanding payment of an additional US$708 million on top of the US$1.9 billion Punta Catalina turnkey power plant installation.

2) A section of the ruling party wants to impose universal voting system for party primaries to resolve an internal dispute.

3) Classes at the state UASD university were paralyzed for several days after the president of the student federation was arrested, accused of sending students to the United States with fraudulent documentation.

4) Judicial system authorities declared contract killer Pedro Alejandro Castillo Paniagua dead, but now it is known he is alive and his whereabouts unknown.

5) The Dominican Association of Public School Teachers has interrupted the school year because the Ministry of Education began a process to purge its payroll.

Quirinito case shows lack of controls in local judiciary
How a close relative of a major drug trafficker, who had been serving a sentence to murder for 30 years, was able to maneuver through the local judiciary, jail and medical systems reveals the vulnerability of these institutions, highlights Listin Diario in a report on 8 October 2017. Pedro Alejandro Castillo Paniagua (Quirinito) secured forged documents, including false medical and death certificates, and a long series of questionable favorable judiciary resolutions.

Surprisingly, at no time did the judicial system question the authenticity of these documents or reviewed the tainted judicial proceedings until media reports questioned the veracity of Castillo Paniagua’s death.

Castillo Paniagua was sentenced to 30 years in jail on 13 April 2010, by a San Cristóbal court after evidence showed he had murdered alleged drug trafficker Adolfo Cervantes Arellano (Waikiki) who was under investigation for the murder in March of that same year of National Drug Control Agency agent, Guillermo Tejada Kranwinkel.

In less than two months, on 20 June 2010, Castillo obtained an appeals court decision that ordered a new trial. The new trial that took place in a Baní court resulted in a reduced sentence to 20 years.

Castillo was in jail at Najayo jail until 29 September 2016, when his lawyers secured a ruling by Judge Willy de Jesus that allowed for his transfer to the Vista al Valle Jail in San Francisco de Macorís. In less than a year, his lawyers secured an authorization by San Francisco de Macoris judge Aleyda Jimenez Acosta that allowed him to hold domiciliary arrest on grounds that he had terminal mouth cancer.

Forensic physician Orlando Herrera Robles then certified his death, issuing a medical certificate on 5 July 2017 that was used to prepare his death certificate. The health certificate issued in the name of Quirinito’s mother, Monica Paniagua, established that the person suffered from high blood pressure, an illness that affects 30% of the population in the Dominican Republic.

On 3 October 2017, an investigation by the prosecutor Bolivar Sanchez of the Attorney General Office undertaken after the case was discussed in the media, determined Castillo Paniagua had not died and requested his capture by the Police and the Interpol.

Physician Orlando Herrera was suspended from his work at the National Institute of Forensic Science. The National Judiciary Council ordered the suspension from work of justices of San Cristobal and San Francisco that had issued the favorable orders for Castillo. Others suspended are appeals prosecutor in San Francisco de Macoris José Calasanz Morel, and Franklin Ortega, supervision head of the new jail model.

Also under investigation is oncologist Angel Garabot Polanco who had certified the mouth cancer. He referred the patient to the Centro de Radioterapia del Instituto Oncologico Regional del Cibao for treatment with Dr. Naly Cruz Ventura, supervised by Dr. Cesar Nuñez Rojas. Nunez Rojas was whom on 31 March 2017 had diagnosed that Quirinito had cancer.

A report in Diario Libre says that details of a health certificate issued in the name of Monica Paniagua, mother of Quirinito, was used by Quirinito lawyers to justify the transfer from San Cristóbal to San Francisco and accepted by the judiciary.
Diario Libre reports that the oncologist certified Quirinito had mouth cancer ten days after the San Francisco de Macoris judge authorized domiciliary arrest.

San Francisco de Macoris TV program producers, Kirsy Mena and Washington Espino have denounced that they have received telephone death threats after having revealed the case in the media. The local judiciary only began to investigate after the case was broken in the media.
After the supposed death of Quirinito on 5 July 2017, the case had months being discussed in social media with the whereabouts of the body of Castillo Pantaleon unknown until the Attorney General named adjunct prosecutor Bolivar Sanchez to take on the investigation. This is the same prosecutor who resolved the murder case of the late Emely Peguero in 48 hours.

Holy See defrocks priest who was cleared of charges by a Constanza court
The spokesman for the La Vega bishop office, Reverend Fausto García, confirmed reports that the Holy See had defrocked Constanza priest Juan Manuel Mota de Jesus (Padre Johnny) after an ecclesiastical court in The Vatican determined the veracity of claims of rape of at least 15 women when he was priest in Constanza.

The claims had been filed after the local judicial authorities (prosecutors Victor Gonzalez, Johanna Isabel Reyes Hernandez and Fernando Quezada García) of Constanza in La Vega province in 2014, had determined there was insufficient evidence and the case did not move through the local justice system.

Reverend García said that Padre Johnny can still appeal, but he said it is unlikely that he will do so.

In the Dominican Republic, the former priest, throughout all the process has denied the accusations. A millionaire, Mota all along had expressed his frustration at the fact that there are no formal charges against him. Nevertheless, the Bishop of La Vega, Monsignor Antonio Camilo, had already suspended the priest from his position at the Constanza parish. While Mota did not have to face the brunt of the law, Bishop Camilo asked for forgiveness to the people of Constanza. "Christians need to be open to forgive, and the Church invites us every day to ask for pardon from God and our brothers for our sins, at the beginning of mass and in the Our Father prayer. That is why we ask for pardon from the affected persons, their families, society, and the ordinary people, for the times that with a bad example and a lack of coherent testimony, as servers of Jesus Christ, we have offended," said La Vega Bishop Antonio Camilo Gonzalez back in 2014.

Dominican invents AI device to predict disease outbreaks
26-year old Dominican Rainier Mallol has invented a medical epidemiological device with artificial intelligence (AIME) that predicts where the next outbreaks of dengue, zika and chikungunya are most likely to occur. The invention turned Mallol into one of 35 winners of Innovators under 35 in Latin America 2017 of the MIT Technology Review in Spanish.

MIT Technology Review explains that medical epidemiology studies the patterns of onset and spread of infectious diseases, but always at posteriori. Mallol used available data from the study of the conditions that favor the outbreaks to identify the zones that have a greater risk due to their characteristics. His platform enabled the detailed analysis of large volumes of data by an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, a tool that is more powerful and faster than human experts can calculate. The AI is shown to accurately predict the likelihood of an outbreak occurring at a particular location three months in advance.

"The project currently focuses on three mosquito-borne diseases: dengue, Zika and Chikungunya," says Mallol. In the case of dengue, the effectiveness achieved exceeds 88%. To do this calculation, Mallol fed its platform with historical data from which it made the predictions. Then he had to compare his results only with the outbreaks that actually occurred after three months. Having this level of precision with that margin in advance would allow authorities to make more effective use of resources, such as more effectively targeting fumigation campaigns.

After conducting pilot studies in Brazil and the Philippines, AIME has reached an agreement with the government of the Malaysian state of Penang to use its platform. "Each case reported by physicians in health centers is digitized and reported immediately to the system, a subsystem collects data related to the case from other sources (NASA, Google, weather, etc.), up to a total of 246 variables,” explains Mallol. With these data, including the domicile of the affected and the date of the first symptom, the AI model updates its prediction of the percentage of risk of generating an outbreak (two or more cases in an area of 400 meters in 14 days) for each location.

In addition to the prediction map, the platform generates a control panel that displays, in real time, various strategic analytics, such as the total history of cases, age ranges of the affected, ethnic background and symptoms presented, to name a few examples. "In 2016 four scientists took almost a year to map all the cases of 2014, grouped by months, with AI that work was done in three hours," asserts the young Dominican, as reported by the MIT Technology Review.

World class volleyball at the Olympic Center
Watch the Dominican women’s national volleyball team, ranked consistently in the top 10 of the world, go for a slot in the World Championships. The Norceca Continental Championship Group A will be played in Santo Domingo from 13-15 October 2017. The event is a qualifier that offers two tickets to the FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018 in Japan.

The four-team competition officially named “Viva Cup” includes the representatives of Jamaica, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
The tournament will be televised by Telecentro Channel 13.

The schedule for the tournament is:
October 13
5:00 Puerto Rico vs. Jamaica
7:00 Guatemala vs. Dominican Republic
October 14
5:00 Guatemala vs. Puerto Rico
7:00 Jamaica vs. Dominican Republic
October 15
5:00 Guatemala vs. Jamaica
7:00 Puerto Rico vs. Dominican Republic

Comedy at Palacio Bellas Artes
The comedy, Atrácame Mas, by Cuban humorist Alexis Valdes is showing at the Palacio de Bellas Artes on the weekend of 12-15 October 2017 at 8:30pm, Sunday at 6:30pm. Starring Irving Alberto and Luis José Germán, it is the tale of a burglar who enters to rob in the home of a successful yet arrogant TV producer. Tickets are RD$1,050 and RD$1,260.