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SIHI Latin America and the Caribbean, hosted at the CIDEIM

We catalyze the integration of experience, resources and knowledge to build inter-sectorial capacity and evidence for social innovation in health.



SIHI LAC was launched in May 2017 as a collaboration between Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Medicas (CIDEIM), Universidad Icesi and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). Based in Cali, Colombia, our SIHI serves the Latin American and Caribbean Region (LAC).


Our focus areas are:



Regional social innovation initiatives: develop tools and/or mechanisms to strengthen community-based research



Research institutions in low-and middle income countries in the region in order to strengthen capacity to innovate socially in health and promote stakeholder articulation.



Of best practices for innovation, involving public and private institutions and scalability of social innovation for health.


Please select an activity to learn more about what we are doing.


In 2017, we hosted the first open call for social innovations in healthcare delivery in Central America & the Caribbean. Following an assessment process by an independent expert panel, 3 social innovations were selected for case study research in 2018.


We are now looking for social innovations in health in five countries in the Latin America Andean Region: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.
The solutions must have improved access to healthcare, the quality of health care and care for infectious diseases of poverty.


Call opening date: 3 June 2019
Call closing date: 13 July 2019

Case study research

In 2018, our team of researchers visited each of the selected social innovations in Guatemala and Honduras to learn more about their work. Three full length case studies have been produced as well as short films on each.


Learn more about the case studies below.

Community of stakeholders

We continue to grow our Community of Stakeholders in social innovation in health. In 2019, we hosted two ‘virtual coffee’ webinars. More than 30 stakeholders joined us for these sessions.


During our “Virtual Coffees” we discuss relevant topics in social innovation and funding opportunities were shared with the members of the community.


If you would like to become part of our online community, contact us.

Training in Community Based Participatory Research

In September 2018, we hosted our first course on “Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)” facilitated by Dr Nina Wallerstein at CIDEIM, in Cali, Colombia. The purpose of the course was to conduct and promote research and capacities in the field of social innovation in health in Colombia. The course was attended by 16 people from representing different sectors, national and international institutions as well as different disciplines.  In 2019, we will continue to share the CBPR and other community-based research methodologies.


The internship program in research in social innovation was launched with two interns: Luisa Fernanda Duque, a political scientist and student of the master’s program in Social Innovation from Universidad Icesi and Adrian Fernandez, biologist, dentist and student of the Masters in Epidemiology program at Universidad del Valle (Cali, Colombia).


If you are interested in conducting an internship with us, contact us.


The Hub developed this document to communicate targets areas of SIHI and the LAC Hub, as well as other results and achievements done by the Hub between 2017-2018. Learnings from the selected case studies and preliminary results of the documentary research are included in this document.


Download our findings brief to learn more


The LAC Hub started the line in documentary research with the purpose of defining a theoretical baseline for the concept of SI in Health, due to the lack of conceptual background around this concept. Results of the progress of this research have been presented virtually (webinar/virtual coffee) to the Community of Stakeholders and at international events in social innovation.


SIHI LAC will participate at the XII Congress of Scientific Research in Health Sciences of the Scientific Research Unit of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the Universidad Autonoma de Honduras.


Dr. Diana María Castro-Arroyave will present a paper on: “HIV prevention in indigenous peoples of Colombia, a commitment to social innovation in health?


At this event, our 2017 selected social innovators in health would also have the opportunity to present on their work.



Our team is comprised of members from three collaborating organisations


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Dr. Nancy Saravia, is the leader of the LAC Hub and the Director of the Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM) in Cali, Colombia.


The promotion and development of research capacity has been a core focus of her career. This has involved international partnerships to build local and regional research and training capacities through interdisciplinary investigation on tropical infectious diseases. Dr. Saravia is a biologist who holds a Doctorate degree in Microbiology from Vanderbilt University.

Project Manager

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Mr. Luis Enrique Vacaflor is the project manager of the Hub, supporting in the planning, execution and follow up of the activities to accomplish the mission, vision and the strategic objectives of the Hub.


He also helped in the dissemination of the 2017 SIHI CAC call through the implementation of the communication strategy and the follow up of the selection process and of the realization of case studies and videos of the selected innovations. Luis is a chemist from Universidad Icesi and since 2015 has been a project manager in CIDEIM, first coordinating the training program “Linking the Power of Omics Technologies to Translational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases” and now the SIHI LAC Hub. He is also a trainer in the Effective Project Planning and Evaluation (EPPE) course.

Leader of Research

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Dr. Castro assumes the leadership of the LAC-Hub team. She has a PhD. in Social Sciences and post-doctorate in the area of Social Innovation in Health. She has extensive experience in teaching, social research and community work.


From the LAC-Hub leads the linking of social research in health research projects on diseases of poverty and social innovation with CIDEIM and on HIV and Hepatitis B in indigenous communities of Colombia with the University of Antioquia. Advocates the dissemination and implementation of community-based participatory methodologies in the LAC Region and takes up the challenge of creating a sustainable community of stakeholders in Social Innovation in Health.

Postdoctoral Researcher

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Dra.Bautista as postdoctoral researcher in the LAC-Hub is in charge of developing research in social innovation in health. She is a sociologist and Doctor in Social Sciences from the University of Granada, with experience in social science research and work with vulnerable rural communities.


She leads the call for the identification of case studies of social innovation in health, will support research training activities, and will develop her postdoctoral research in social innovation in heath in relation of diseases associated with poverty

Advisor-Icesi University

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Ms. Maria Irurita is a social enterprise and social innovation advisor, trainer, and developer with experience of working and researching underserved communities.


She led the case study production of the 2017 SIHI CAC call. Trained as an economist and anthropologist, with a postgraduate degree in Anthropology of Development, Maria worked in London for ten years advising women-led, user-led, Black Minority Ethnic Refugee-led and young people’s groups. She also directed a Corporate Social Responsibility programme and created a capacity building support scheme for social enterprises. In 2011 Ms. Irurita joined the academia as Director of the MA in Social Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2014 she set up the Master Degree in Management for Social Innovation at Universidad Icesi.

Senior Advisor-PAHO

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Dr. Luis Gabriel Cuervo is a senior advisor to the LAC Hub. Having been an advisor to the Global SIHI initiative since its launch, he is passionate about using knowledge for health, and is a champion to promoting social innovation in health.


As PAHO’s Senior Advisor for Research Promotion and Development, he coordinated the development of the Policy on Research for Health (2009) and now supports its implementation and monitoring. He also coordinated the Americas regional contributions to WHO’s Strategy on Research for Health (World Health Assembly, 2010). Luis Gabriel was a pioneer with the Cochrane Collaboration in Colombia, consulted WHO in the evidence-informed harmonization of the interagency lists for reproductive health, supported the internationalization and growth of BMJ’s Clinical Evidence as a Senior Clinical Editor, and developed a partnership between Clinical Evidence and Cochrane.




For regular news and updates, follow us on Facebook @sihilac



If you are interested to become part of SIHI LAC or join our activities, please contact:


Luis Enrique Vacaflor, – SIHI LAC Project Manager

Diana Maria Castro, – Leader of Researcher