Cuban science is innovation, and makes it tangible

Pandemic times have been very difficult for civilization, but they have also led to learning, with great speed, about how to find ways to save life. An example of this, in the case of Cuba, is the proposal to improve the National Health System, based on Innovation, which this Tuesday was presented to the country’s leadership.

The explanation of such a proposal —which was in charge of Dr. Ileana Morales Suárez, director of Science and Technological Innovation of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP)— took place during the meeting of experts and scientists who are immersed in science activities and technological innovation to confront the new coronavirus.

“The Science Group and the Innovation Committee have completed two years,” said the expert emphatically, referring to an intense stage, of tireless fight against a devastating disease, during the meeting led by the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, as well as by the Member of the Political Bureau and Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Inés María Chapman Waugh.

When they asked these days, Dr. Ileana said, the members of the Innovation Committee about what these times of work have meant, they spoke of commitment, socialization, modesty, dedication, altruism, integrity, decision, humility, solidarity. But the expert highlighted something that also came to light and that for her is cardinal: the word team; because she, she said, “worked as a single team, all borders were erased”, and that has been a lesson, a “hard but rewarding” day.

As a result of so much effort, explained Ileana Morales Suárez, more than 1,100 national projects were born; more than a thousand scientific publications; 268 studies, trials and interventions that were approved by the Innovation Committee; 46 Clinical Trials; 14 Complex Health Interventions; ten computer tools, and 172 communication and psychosocial products.

“For us,” he stated, speaking of achievements that have been recorded and published, “the three great results that the Science Group has had, together with the rest of the Temporary Group’s technical group, has been to have reached a Cuban model of confrontation health to COVID-19, with a scientific basis; having reached a single Cuban protocol of action for COVID-19; and having made a Cuban anti-COVID-19 vaccination strategy ».

When presenting the Proposal for an innovation matrix, the expert alluded to the strengths that were used to design it. Between them; a systemic vision, the network of Universities of Medical Sciences, a system of science and innovation in Health, human capital, technological development, articulation with other sectors of society, and a closed cycle system of the National Health System with the biotechnological industry and pharmaceutical from Cuba.

With the Proposal —said Ileana Morales Suárez— the aim is to increase the impact of innovation in all areas of the National Health System; explicitly formulate the demand for knowledge that the System needs today to continue its development; stimulate the participation of all workers in innovation and train them for it; as well as taking advantage, in terms of procedures, of the experiences acquired in the confrontation with COVID-19.

It will not be an easy task, as the expert also explained, because it will be necessary to recover from the damage left by the epidemic; The urgencies of an aging population cannot be ignored; attention will have to be paid to the permanent increase in the scientific and technical level of a large number of workers; it will be necessary to optimize the use of resources while being able to generate new ones; and never rule out the risk of new pandemics.

The proposal, as the Doctor of Sciences, Pastor Castell-Florit Serrate, Director of the National School of Public Health, said at the meeting, does not interfere with other purposes but enhances them: it strengthens what is done from macro-programs, programs and projects; It aims to improve professional leadership, and reminds us that “any procedure we do at the level of practice to face a problem” is already innovation and an act of science.

“I believe —valued President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez— that the Innovation Committee should be congratulated for all the work it has done during this time; It has been work that demonstrates how to work on these issues of innovation: attending to, facing complex problems. And it has been a strength for everything that has been achieved in the face of COVID-19.”

No less interesting was the topic on the production and visibility of Cuban science, on which Ileana Alfonso Sánchez, Director of the National Information Center for Medical Sciences (Infomed), made her intervention. First of all, she delivered to President Díaz-Canel a first volume of metric research, which includes an arduous investigation of recent times.

«That volume you have -he told the Head of State- is the first book of our Medical Sciences publishing house, in open access. The trajectory begins, the course of open science, along with a policy that the publisher is working on ».

Among other details, the specialist highlighted that “from the perspective of viewing authorship”, what prevailed was multiple authorship (individual authorship only represented one percent). The text collects a science that is in tune with “what is happening at the international level”, which boasts the collaboration between authors and projects, and also the integration of the different disciplinary areas.

The editorial proposal attests to the predominance of the publications of our artificers of science in national magazines, to a notable growth of articles in international publications, and to an extensive collaboration with countries in Latin America, Europe and South Africa. The issues related to the production of the vaccine, with research on treatments for COVID-19 and with the action protocols, speak of a sustained effort, from Cuba, for the defense of life.

Regarding what was discussed at the meeting, Eduardo Martínez Díaz, President of the Superior Organization of Business Management (OSDE) BioCubaFarma, spoke to the country’s leadership about the BioHabana 2022 Congress, an event that will be convened by the OSDE and will take place in the Havana Palace of Conventions from April 25 to 29 next.

“You compelled us several times, Eduardo Martínez told Díaz-Canel, to socialize the results of the studies on the pandemic and everything that has been done.” Then the president spoke of showing the world what the Island has done in these difficult times; and he proposed organizing visits to health institutions and scientific centers, to show “our technological developments.”

Maintain epidemiological measures

The meeting of experts and scientists with the country’s leadership began with the usual and very useful mathematical models of forecasts, in charge of Dr.C. Raúl Guinovart Díaz, dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computing of the University of Havana. The numbers, as he said, point to a decrease in the behavior of the pandemic, but the maintenance of epidemiological measures remains vital.

In the same tone of defending health and life, the meeting of the Temporary Work Group for the prevention and control of COVID-19 was held later, which was headed by President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, by the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, and by the Vice President of the Republic, Salvador Valdés Mesa.

Through video-conference, the authorities of each province exchanged with the country’s leadership about the epidemiological situation of each territory. Among other encouraging figures, the head of Health, José Angel Portal Miranda, stated that at the end of week six (the date of which is marked February 12) the transmission of COVID-19 decreased by 53.7 percent compared to January.

In the last 14 days, said the headline, 15,461 positive cases of the disease were diagnosed, for an incidence rate of 138.2 per 100,000 inhabitants. In this sense, the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud maintains the highest indicator.

The country accumulates 8,476 deaths from COVID-19, for a fatality rate of 0.80 percent throughout the entire epidemic. In the current year, according to Portal Miranda, 153 deaths have been reported for a fatality rate of 0.16 percent, and no active events have been reported.

Among other data, the head stated that there are already more than 34,700,000 vaccine doses administered on the island. And regarding the Cuban Vaccination Certificate, he pointed out that since the Digital Vaccination Certificate service began, 65,818 people have requested the same; of them, 91.5 percent obtained their certificate, while 9.29 percent did not achieve such identification due to lack of completion of the necessary information.

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