Dominican Republic’s Dr. Pereyra Uses Media for Public Health Messaging on COVID-19

Dominican Republic’s Dr. Pereyra Uses Media for Public Health Messaging on COVID-19

Part of the worldwide fear around spreading COVID-19 comes from the uncertainty of media. How much of what the media produces is factual? How much is sensational? What’s the difference between a friend of a friend passing along a doctor’s message and hearing from the doctor yourself?

Dr. Rosy Pereyra, a Global Ageing Network Board member, is doing interviews across the Dominican Republic to get ahead of the messaging with facts about the effect of COVID-19 on older adults. In early March when the Dominican Republic had no deaths and five cases, Dr. Pereyra was doing  radio interviews to warn the public about mass gatherings, prevent traditional greetings of kissing on the cheek, and shaking hands. And importantly, not to panic because panic causes stress, and stress lowers the immune system. Dr. Pereyra reminds us that we do not know how far this is going to go, so we must take care of ourselves, including our mental and physical health.

Only a few people had coronavirus at the time Dr. Pereyra and her team started public messaging. She warned listeners that one person could spread the disease to seven more people. The Dominican Republic has had over 90 deaths and over 1,900 cases (as of April 9 from the World Health Organization).

Dr. Pereyra’s question and answer campaign are a strategy helping slow the spread on the island. In late March, there were no cases in any long-term care institutions the way other countries have experienced. However, as of April 7, there had been two deaths in long-term care institutions in the north. A visitor had brought the virus in before the institution decided to shut down visitations. The Dominican Republic’s leadership shut down schools, flights, and other parts of the economy through April 15th.

To watch Dr. Pereyra’s interviews, click