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Latin America and the Caribbean Social Innovation in Health Hub

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

Our Hub 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 Hub serves the Latin American and Caribbean Region (LAC). We seek to integrate knowledge and cross-sectoral skills to promote social innovation in health. We execute, promote and consolidate the research capacity in the area based on the formation and maintenance of a community of stakeholders in social innovation in health.


CIDEIM is committed to the well-being and progress of the people of Colombia, and the region. As an autonomous entity within the National System of Science, Technology and Innovation, CIDEIM’s institutional paradigm facilitates the exploration and opening of frontiers of biomedical research on transmissible diseases.  The multidisciplinary team develops solutions to health problems and builds scientific and technological capacity through basic and applied research. CIDEIM works with the public health, industrial and academic sectors at the national and international level.


Icesi University is a private university located in Cali, California. Founded in 1979, the university offers undergraduate programs, specializations and master’s degree studies. There are over 3500 undergraduate, 400 masters and 345 specialization students. In 2014, the university launched a new Master’s Degree in Management for Social Innovation.

Pan American Health Organization


PAHO is the specialized international health agency for the Americas. It works with countries throughout the region to improve and protect people’s health. PAHO engages in technical cooperation with its member countries to fight communicable and noncommunicable diseases and their causes, to strengthen health systems, and to respond to emergencies and disasters. It works in partnership with ministries of health and other government agencies, civil society organizations, other international agencies, universities, social security agencies, community groups, and other partners.


Identify and Research

We identify, promote and research social innovations in health

Capacitate and Convene

We consolidate research capacity for social innovation in health through training programmes and the formation and maintenance of a stakeholder community.

Advocate and Disseminate

We integrate knowledge and cross-sectoral capacities to catalyse social innovation in health


Innovation identification call

In 2017 we held an open call for creative solutions improving health care delivery in Central America and the Caribbean. We had 16 submissions, which were review by an independent panel of experts, with three final solutions selected.

Case study research

Our team of researchers visited each selected innovation to learn and document its work. Three full length case studies and short films from Guatemala and Honduras will be released later this year.

Community of stakeholders

We are inviting NGOs, universities, private sector, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions interested in health and innovation in the region to partner with us in forming a community of stakeholders in social innovation in health.

Training in Community Based Participatory Research

in September 2018 a CBPR course will be held in Cali to train trainers and build capacity in CBPR in the region.




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

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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.



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

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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


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.

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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.

Project Manager


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.

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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 CAC Hub. He is also a trainer in the Effective Project Planning and Evaluation (EPPE) course.

Postdoctoral Researcher


Dr. Castro is a postdoctoral researcher at the Hub as well as supporting the team to advise national and international interns. She has a doctorate in Social Sciences and experience in social research and community-based work.

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She leads the articulation between research projects in diseases of poverty and social innovation in CIDEIM. From the training in Implementation Research and CBPR, she will act as a coach in these methodological proposals in the LAC Region and is taking on the challenge of creating a sustainable Community Stakeholders in Social Innovation in Health.



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Diana María Castro/CIDEIM

Luis Enrique Vacaflor/CIDEIM