President Medina inaugurates modernized hospital in La Vega
Kidney transplant from 12-year old to 4-year old at Plaza de la Salud
Four-floor offices for San Pedro de Macoris bishop
Haitian legislators visit President Medina
Haiti’s water problems are of big concern for DR
Air pollution is high in Greater Santo Domingo
Pawa CEO impeded to fly to USA
DR Davis Cup team made Brazil sweat to advance
Aguilas lose one and win one in start in Mexico

President Medina inaugurates modernized hospital in La Vega
President Danilo Medina was in La Vega for the inauguration of the remodeled 110-bed Luis Morillo King Public Hospital on Thursday, 1 February 2018. The government reports RD$280.4 million was invested in the expansion and equipping of the medical center that serves around 225,000 inhabitants in the La Vega community. The works were carried out by the Office of Supervisory Engineers of the Presidency (OISOE).

Child kidney transplant at Plaza de la Salud
Medical authorities of the governmental Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud (HGPS) proudly announced the successful transplant of a donated kidney from a deceased child to a four-year old boy. This is the third kidney transplant to a child at the hospital, but the first time it was from a deceased child, announced Julio Amado Castaños Guzmán, president of the board of the HGPS.

The kidney was donated by the mother of the deceased 12-year old. The four-year old from La Vega needed regular dialysis while waiting for this procedure.

Dr. Castaños made the announcement to encourage more donations. He said the operation now opens the hospital’s pediatric transplant program. The cost of the operation was covered by the hospital board.

Also present at the presentation were Jiomar Figueroa, coordinator of the transplant program; Nephrology Department head José Juan Castillo, and pediatric nephrologist Mabel Almonte, as well as the mother of the child, Yakayra Oganda who told her story.

He estimates there are around 100 children that need dialysis treatments and are candidates for kidney donations to lead a normal life.

He said in the past 10 years some 256 transplants of organs have been carried out at the HGPS, including 39 of liver, one of heart, one of kidney and pancreas, another of liver and kidney, and the other of kidneys. Dr. Castaños said HGPS has the capacity to also transplant livers to children.

Four-floor offices for San Pedro de Macoris bishop
President Danilo Medina traveled to San Pedro de Macoris on Wednesday, 1 February 2018 to inaugurate the new offices his administration built for the Roman Catholic bishop in San Pedro de Macorís. The former bishop of San Pedro, Monsignor Francisco Ozoria Acosta, was promoted in 2016 by Pope Francis to Archbishop of Santo Domingo, and is the head of the Dominican Catholic Church.

The new offices are located in a four story building with 26 offices, chapel, library and meeting room.

The bishop offices had previously operated out of the third floor of the San Pedro Apostal Cathedral in San Pedro. The church had requested the construction of the new offices in 2016.

Haitian legislators visit President Medina
A delegation of Haitian legislators paid a courtesy visit to President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace on Friday, 2 February 2018. The delegation was headed by the presidents of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies of Haiti, Joseph Lambert and Gary Bodeau, respectively, the Presidency reported.

Other members of the mission were senators Onondieu Louis, Willot Joseph, Evalliere Beauplan, Vilfrid Gelin, Saurel Jacinthe and Nawoon Marcellus. Also senators Ralph Féthière, Richard Herve Fourcand, Rony Gilot and Annibal Goffy. Visiting deputies in addition to Bodeau were: Manès Louis, Ostin Pierre Louis, Jean Miller Jean, Alfredo Pierre Antoine, Jean Wilner Guervil, Guerda Benjamin and Joseph Benoit Laguerre.

Present at the meeting with President Medina for the Dominican government were Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo; legal advisor to the President, Flavio Dario Esoinal and Presidency spokesman Roberto Rodríguez Marchena.

Listin Diario reported that among the issues discussed was the increase in the cost of a legal visa for Haitians to travel to the DR. The visa reportedly increased from US$230 to US$350, but a rush visa costs US$380. The legislators said that a USA visa costs only US$150.

Haiti’s water problems are of big concern for DR
Minister of Environment Francisco Dominguez Brito says that the biggest concern of the Dominican Republic regarding Haiti is not a migratory one. He alerted the most pressing problem is the availability of water for human needs in Haiti. The scarcity of water in Haiti will have serious consequences for the Dominican Republic, he warned, as reported in Diario Libre on Saturday, 3 February 2018. Domínguez Brito speculated the situation could create a crisis with violent consequences in the next 10 or 15 years.

Dominguez Brito said that in the capital city of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, a city of three million inhabitants, only 5% of the families receive piped water. The rest of the households pump their water from wells.

"The water from the shallow wells that many residents of Port-au-Prince are using is undoubtedly contaminated and with the less rain every day, the quality of well water will certainly get worse as a result of man-made pollution and salt water intrusion from the sea", he said as reported in Diario Libre.

Thinking out loud he asked where the water to serve seven million Haitians would come from in 5, 10 or 15 years. He also pondered the effects climate change and increasing days of drought on the situation.

Domínguez said the Dominican Republic would have to think of its own water needs, but also those of Haiti, making it even more important to care for the forests and rivers of the country.

"Dominicans should be gravely concerned about the consequences when Port-au-Prince runs out of water – the people will come running here,” warning of a crisis in the making that will be revealed in 10, 15 years.

The remarks come at a time that the Ministry of Energy & Mines has granted numerous mining exploration permits to mining companies, many of which now seek definitive permits to reap profits from mineral deposits in the border region with Haiti, not far from pristine National Parks and important watersheds. Mining operations demand large consumers of water. These same operations produce large volumes of contaminating mining residuals.

Domínguez Brito says the Dominican government has reforested around 750,000 tareas (1 tarea = 629 square meters) over the past three years. He said this translates into an additional 90 million trees planted at a cost of RD$6 billion. He urged increases in planting of fruit trees, such as avocados and cacao.

Air pollution is high in Greater Santo Domingo
A report in Listin Diario highlights findings revealed in the Report on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Informe Nacional sobre Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano Sostenible) by the Ministry of Economy that particulate air pollution has reached levels that are double what is generally accepted for an urban area. Particulate air pollution is anything solid or liquid suspended in the air and includes smoke, fumes, soot, and other combustion byproducts, but also natural particles such as windblown dust, sea salt, pollen and spores.

The city of Santo Domingo is affected by pollution caused by traffic congestion and likewise by particles that come directly out of exhaust stacks and tailpipes of individual generators during the frequent blackouts. The city is also affected by its intense urbanization. Individual homes with their front and back patios have been replaced by concrete high rises with little or no green areas.

Pawa CEO impeded to fly to USA
The chief executive officer of Pawa Airline in the Dominican Republic, Gary Stone was about to leave the country on Saturday, 3 February 2018, with his wife for Miami, Florida when he was stopped when passing through Migration at the Punta Cana International Airport. He then learned that the Civil Aviation Board (JAC) had scheduled a meeting on Monday, 5 February he should attend. A source told Listin Diario reporters that Stone is under an official order not to leave the country.

The JAC has suspended the Pawa’s permission to fly. The airline has stranded hundreds of passengers who had purchased fares on the airline and carried out the first part of their travel plans. JAC had announced on 27 January that the airline’s operations were suspended for outstanding taxes and debts with the Las Americas International Airport operators, for an estimated US$7 million.

Listin Diario reported that a source told them the airline has been given until Monday, 5 February (JAC Resolution 18-2018) to come forth with a plan on how the airline will come through for passengers that have traveled on the Pawa tickets and have not been able to complete the second half of their flight, prior to taking legal actions against the airline.

Prior to the suspension, the airline flew regular flights from Las Americas International (SDQ) to Miami, Florida, Havana, Cuba, Sint Marteen, Curacao, Aruba and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airline’s operations were seriously affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 that devastated many of their flight destinations.

Meanwhile, Ferries del Caribe is offering a US$79 one-way deal to transport the San Juan, Puerto Rico-bound stranded passengers, as reported in Listin Diario.

DR Davis Cup team made Brazil sweat to advance
The young Dominican Davis Cup tennis team battled a more experienced Brazilian club to lose the Americas Group I play held in Santo Domingo at the Club Naco tennis courts. The matches took place on 2 February and 3 February 2018. The DR lost 2-3, with the two points secured by José (Bebo) Hernández.

Playing singles for the Dominican Republic were 27-year old José (Bebo) Hernández, ranked 285th, 24-year old Roberto Cid (411st), 21-year old José Olivares, ranked 787th, and 17-year old Nick Hardt (1334th). Playing doubles were Nick Hardt and José Olivares.

The Brazilian singles players were 23-year old Thiago Monteiro (116th), 33-year old Rogerio Dutra Silva (98th), 29-year old Joao Souza (245th), 25-year old Guilherme Clezar (213rd), and 30-year old Thomaz Bellucci (109th). Brazilian doubles team are Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares, ranked 1 and 10 in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world ranking.

The 2-3 February 2018 games ended:
Jose (Bebo) Hernandez defeated Joao Pedro Sorgi (6-2, 4-6, 7-6),
Roberto Cid lost to Thiago Monteiro (7-6, 5-7, 2-6)
Nick Hardt/Jose Olivares lost to Marcelo Demoliner/Marcelo Melo (3-6, 4-6)
José Hernandez defeated Thiago Monteiro (6-4, 7-6)
Roberto Cid Subervi lost to Joao Pedro Sorgi (6-6, 1-6, 4-6)

The Dominican team now will match Barbados Davis Cup team on 6-7 April in Barbados.

Aguilas lose one and win one in start in Mexico
Representing the Dominican Republic, the Aguilas Cibaeñas lost their first game of the Caribbean Series 15-4 to Venezuela (Caribes de Anzoátegui). But there was relief, when they pulled off a 6-3 victory against Puerto Rico (Criollos de Caguas), in the second game in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday, 4 February 2018.

The games are being played in Guadalajara, Mexico. Participating are teams from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico and the DR through 8 February 2018.

The Dominican Republic is the Caribbean Series team to have won the most pennants, with 19. The win against Puerto Rico broke the losing streak affecting Dominican teams in the Caribbean Series. The Dominican team hadn’t won a game since participating in the regional classic in San Juan, Puerto Rico in February 2015.