Gracia Vargas

Gracia Vargas (Stamford, CT) is a pre-med Global Affairs major studying International Development. She has always wanted to be a doctor, and growing up in a Guatemalan family made her especially aware of the special need for doctors to serve the poor in Latin America and within immigrant communities in the US. She hopes that her undergraduate experience at Yale will prepare her both for medical school and for work in development. Gracia is active in various organizations on Yale's campus. She volunteers at the HAVEN Free Clinic as a Spanish interpreter, and serves as 2015 representative to the Davenport College Council. She is a co-captain and goalkeeper for the women's club lacrosse team and is involved with Yspaniola, an NGO founded by Yale students in 2005 that focuses on community development in the bateys of the Dominican Republic through education.

  • Healthcare in the Dominican Republic

    Dominican Republic

    Research on populations of migrant workers around the globe

    demonstrate that these groups are often subject to poor socioeconomic

    conditions and are exposed to discrimination, violence, and exploitation.

    In the Dominican Republic, there is a large population of migrants from

    Haiti that is confined to poor rural shantytown communities called

    bateys; here, they are subject to poor living conditions lacking

    basic infrastructure such as potable water and waste disposal and are

    the targets of widespread discrimination by Dominicans. This batey

    population has been shown to have particularly negative health outcomes

    in infectious diseases such as TB, dengue, malaria and HIV/AIDS, but

    healthcare seeking among Haitians in bateys had not been previously



    In collaboration with Global Health Fellow Lindsey

    Hiebert, I conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire-based field study

    from June 2014-July 2014, and explored the differences between Haitians

    and Dominicans in healthcare seeking among adult household

    representatives from Batey Libertad. The data analysis used Haitian

    nationality as a primary explanatory variable, and various

    socioeconomic indicators as covariates, to perform single and

    multi-variable logistical regressions on the quantitative survey data.

    While there were significant socioeconomic differences between Haitians

    and Dominicans in the batey, these did not account for the disparities

    in health-seeking behavior. Haitians were significantly less likely to choose to

    visit private healthcare facilities for treatment.


    Haitians also reported receiving lower quality of care, even

    when controlling for experiences of discrimination. These findings

    suggest that real disparities exist in the treatment that Haitians

    receive in comparison to Dominicans, and that these disparities may

    contribute to Haitians choosing not to seek healthcare in times of


Global Affairs