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USF-UTRGV-UCE PhotoVoice Project: Health Initiative in Underserved Communities in the United States Subject to the Same Environmental Hazards as Developing Countries in the 21st
Poster Title: USF-UTRGV-UCE PhotoVoice Project: Health Initiative in Underserved Communities in the United States Subject to the Same Environmental Hazards as Developing Countries in the 21st
Submitted on 08 Feb 2017
Author(s): Ana J. Santos, MPH , Michelle Zeager, DO, MPH , Robert M. Nelson, Jr., MD, MS , Goldny A. Mills Bradshaw, MD, MPH
Affiliations: University of South Florida, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and Universidad Central del Este
This poster was presented at USF Health Research Day 2017
Poster Views: 1,772
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Poster Information
Abstract: Texas colonias are residential communities, usually in unincorporated areas of a county, along the Texas-Mexico border. The bateyes are small neighborhoods that were initially settled by seasonal Haitian sugarcane workers traveling to the Dominican Republic (DR) in search of work. Colonias and bateyes vary in population size and infrastructure, many lack basic living necessities such as electricity, running water, paved roads, sewer and drainage systems, and structurally sound houses. These underserved communities may have limited access to schools, healthcare or social services. The living conditions in these communities still remain abysmal due to high unemployment and extreme poverty. The poor infrastructure and environmental hazards in many of these communities can result in injury, infection such as cholera and propagation of vectors that transmit parasites and viruses that may lead to infectious diseases such as malaria, Zika, Chikungunya, and dengue.

Physicians and epidemiology students used smart phones and iPads to take photos and videos during the Fall Semester their field rotations to identify environmental hazards affecting underserved communities in Texas and the Dominican Republic (DR). The photovoice project provides a comparison between developed and developing countries’ environmental hazards. The photos and videos reveal that residents of bateyes and colonias are exposed to almost identical environmental hazards that can profoundly impact the health and well-being of community members. Some of these hazards include solid waste, standing water, and unstable physical structures.

The project aims to identify some of the environmental hazards, through video and photographs, that people living in the colonias and bateyes are subject to and provide a platform for critical discussions among medical and epidemiology students about issues defined in photographs and videos.
It also empowers community members and leaders to identify sustainable solutions, design programs to improve the health and quality of life in these communities, bring awareness at an international level and influence policymakers to stimulate change.
Summary: Identifying environmental hazards that can lead to significant adverse health outcomes, especially in the most vulnerable members of society, is a crucial step in preventing exposure and improving public health in communities. With photos taken in Dominican Republic bateyes and South Texas colonias, this photovoice project demonstrates that the types of environmental hazards that exist in developed and developing countries are similar. References: 1. Las Colonias in the 21st Century: Progress Along the Texas-Mexico Border. April 2015. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Community Development.
2. Texas Border and Mexican Affairs. Texas Secretary of State. Extracted from on February 3, 2017.
3. I. Ramos, L. Baker Davis, Q. He, K. Ramos. (2008). Environmental Risk Factors of Disease in the Cameron Park Colonia, a Hispanic Community Along the Texas–Mexico Border. J Immigrant Minority Health.
4. The Origin of the Dominican Batey. Children of the Nations. Extracted February 4, 2017
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