Impact of Community Support Program on Exclusive Breastfeeding in Santo Domingo’s Health Area IV: A Model of Good Practices

Estefanía Henríquez Luthje

MPH, Maternal & Child Health

Massiel Álvarez, María Del Orbe, Patricia Grullón

Jamie Stang

Breastfeeding, community support


Background: Despite multiple interventions over three decades, exclusive breastfeeding in the Dominican Republic remains below the global average. In 2020, the Ministry of Health piloted the Community Support Program for Pregnant Women, Postpartum Women, and Infants in vulnerable areas along the Ozama River, including Health Area IV (HA-IV), where 13 community health workers monitor risk factors and provide education to over 400 families every month, including promoting breastfeeding.

Methods: Breastfeeding knowledge and practices among pregnant and postpartum individuals in HA-IV were assessed as part of field epidemiology research in October 2021. The results were compared to the latest nationwide ENHOGAR-Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicators. The HA-IV 2021 report was consulted.

Findings: In 2021, the program provided follow-up to 1,278 pregnant and 893 postpartum individuals and conducted 7,984 biweekly home visits and 18 group meetings, where participants received support, counseling, and information on breastfeeding. These interactions facilitated the collective construction of knowledge and the review of attitudes and practices. 92.3% of participants were familiar with the definition of exclusive breastfeeding, while 79.3% were aware of the recommended duration. 46.8% of children under six months were exclusively breastfed. Despite the disparity between knowledge and practices, the prevalence of this practice is noteworthy. Exclusive breastfeeding prevalence in HA-IV was twice the rate of Santo Domingo province (19.1%) and almost three times higher than the country (15.8%)

Conclusion: HA-IV’s success highlights the positive impact of support and counseling. Further research on the factors leading to higher breastfeeding rates in HA-IV could yield valuable insights for promoting breastfeeding nationwide.


This study was supported by the General Directorate of Epidemiology of the Dominican Republic (DIGEPI), African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET)

Estefania Henriquez Poster

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