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International collaboration of PAHO/WHO, CIDEIM, Icesi and TDR

Pan American Health Organization


PAHO is the specialized international health agency for the Americas working with countries throughout the region to improve and protect people’s health. PAHO engages in technical cooperation with its member countries to identify and combat the cause and consequences of communicable and non-communicable diseases, strengthen health systems, and respond to emergencies and disasters. PAHO is committed to ensuring that all people have access to the health care they need, when they need it, with quality, and without fear of falling into poverty. Through its work, PAHO promotes and supports the right of everyone to have good health.

To advance these goals, PAHO promotes technical cooperation by partnering with ministries of health and other national authorities, civil society organizations, international agencies, research institutions, national health institutes, education institutions, social security agencies, community groups, and others. PAHO promotes the inclusion of health in all public policies and the engagement of all sectors in efforts to ensure that people live longer, healthier lives, with good health as their most valuable resource. Its mission is to lead strategic collaborative efforts among Member States and other partners to promote equity in health, to combat disease, and to improve the quality of, and lengthen, the lives of the peoples of the Americas.


CIDEIM is committed to the well-being and progress of the people of Colombia, and the Latin America and the Caribbean regions. As a national non-profit biomedical research institution constituted through a public-private initiative, and member of the National System of Science, Technology and Innovation, the CIDEIM’s interdisciplinary institutional paradigm facilitates exploration and discovery at the frontiers of biomedical research on transmissible diseases.  CIDEIM’s multidisciplinary team develops solutions to health problems and builds scientific and technological capacity through basic, translational and applied research.  In order to achieve its mission, CIDEIM works in concert with the public health, industrial, and academic sectors at the national and international level.  CIDEIM is the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Training Center in Good Research Practices supported by TDR (The Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases of the World Health Organization-World Bank-UNDP and UNICEF) and it is also a Collaborating Center for the World Health Organization.


Founded in 1979 by local business leaders, Universidad Icesi (Icesi University) is a non-profit private institution of higher education located in Cali, Colombia. Icesi University and its diverse educational programs are officially accredited by the Ministerio de Educación Nacional – Consejo Nacional de Educación Superior [National Ministry of Education and the National Council for Superior Education], Colombia and  offers  programs leading to undergraduate degrees in 27 fields of study including engineering, business administration, law, social sciences, natural sciences, medicine, education and music. It also offers 27 master degree programs including Management for Social Innovation.  This unique postgraduate program is designed to develop professional competencies, leadership and management skills needed for social transformation across sectors. The Master’s in Management for Social Innovation enables people from any discipline to contribute to the development of solutions to social and environmental problems.


The Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) is a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty. It is hosted at the World Health Organization (WHO), and sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and WHO. Its mission is to foster an effective global research effort on infectious diseases of poverty and promote the translation of innovation to health impact in disease endemic countries.


The partnership is a joint effort between PAHO/WHO, CIDEIM and ICESI. The implementation team is mainly based in Cali, Colombia.

Senior Advisor

Dr. Luis Gabriel Cuervo is a senior advisor to the SIHI project. 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).

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He brings broad experience in partnerships and capacity development to produce and use research for health, including the development of standards, good practices, and governance mechanisms for research. He has been at the forefront of innovations in summarizing and communicating research findings to inform decisions for health in many areas: public policy, healthcare provision, and prevention. 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. In Colombia he was a clinician and a university teacher who supported the establishment of a Family Medicine graduate program, and the expansion of Clinical Epidemiology with the INCLEN network. Dr. Cuervo is a MD specialized in Family Medicine, who began his research work as an undergraduate student and intensified during his pursuit of an MSc in Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Currently based in Washington DC, USA. More info here.

Project Facilitator and Advisor

Dr. Nancy Saravia, is a facilitator and advisor for the project. She is the Scientific Director of the Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM) in Cali, Colombia. The promotion and development of research capacity has been a constant of her career.  This has involved international partnerships to build local and regional research and training capacities through interdisciplinary investigation on tropical infectious diseases.   

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Dr. Saravia is a biologist who holds a Doctorate degree in Microbiology from Vanderbilt University, a Post Doc in Inmunobiology from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s in Pathobiology and Environmental Health from Johns Hopkins University.” Her research career in tropical infectious diseases has focused on the host-pathogen relationship at the individual, population and cellular levels and has included diverse microbial pathogens causing diseases linked to poverty including:  American trypanosomiasis, malaria, amebiasis, tuberculosis, leprosy, sporotrichosis, and leishmaniasis. Dased in CIDEIM, Cali, Colombia since 1978. More information here.

Implementation Supervisor and Case Study Lead

Ms. Maria Irurita is supervising the implementation of the call for solution and lead the case study production. She is a social enterprise and social innovation advisor, trainer, and developer with experience of working and researching underserved communities. Trained as an economist and as an anthropologist and 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 (Ready to Grow Program).

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Ms. Irurita has worked as a freelance consultant and researcher for various organizations and clients in Europe, Latin America, and South East Asia and in 2011 she joined academia as Director of the MA in Social Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London. Upon her return to her native Colombia in 2014, she set up the Master Degree in Management for Social Innovation at Universidad Icesi, in Cali, where she continues to support various community initiatives. Currently based in Icesi, Cali, Colombia. More information here.

Project Manager and Research Assistant

Mr. Josselyn Mothe is a Project Manager and Research Assistant for this project, he is coordinating the efforts and facilitating its implementation and launch. Currently, he is a Master Candidate in Public and Health Policies at Sciences Po Paris, France. A former intern in Research Promotion and Development at PAHO/WHO’Office of Knowledge Management, Bioethics and Research, he is persuaded that the training of the newest generation of researchers is crucial. He aims to expand initiatives that can empower students with research and evidence-based medicine.

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Back in France, Josselyn worked for both the private and public sector. He has experience working in care facilities for old persons, where he was first exposed to social innovation ideas for people over 65 years old. During his time at the French Ministry of Health, he contributed to the development of a reference book on health care workers. Eager to remain in the field, he has also worked as a consultant in hospital management and organization on how to improve the delivery of healthcare through process analysis and local cooperation strategies. Currently based in CIDEIM, Cali, Colombia. More info here.

Implementation and Launch Specialist

Ms. Lina Jaramillo is supporting the implementation and launch of SIHI project in Central American and the Caribbean. She is a Master Candidate in Management for Social Innovation at Icesi University, and has a B.A in Political Science and International Relations. She is currently working as an Office Manager and Research Assistant at the Afrodiasporic Studies Center in Icesi University. Her research lines of interest are international cooperation and sustainable development.

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She participated in the civil society committee for the construction of Sustainable Development Objectives in the  2015 United Nations General Assembly . In 2016, she started working with afrodescendent female victims of armed conflict in Bojayá, Chocó doing field research on how to empower women at an economic and psychosocial level after violent events. Currently based in Icesi, Cali, Colombia. More information here.

Project Assistant

Mr. Luis Enrique Vacaflor is supporting the dissemination of the call through the implementation of the communication strategy planed by the SIHI team. Luis is a chemist from Universidad Icesi and since 2015 has been a project manager in CIDEIM, coordinating the training program “Linking the Power of Omics Technologies to Translational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases”, which aim is to strengthen capacities and build collaborations between Colombian and UK researchers.

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He has experience in science communication, leading the online Colombian magazine Revista Con Ciencia. Currently based in CIDEIM, Cali, Colombia. More information here.


The Central America and the Caribbean regions are growing with local initiatives that contribute to improving the health of thousands of people and empowering them.

In 2017, building on past lessons learned by SIHI, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) in an collaboration with Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM, Cali, Colombia), the Universidad Icesi (Cali, Colombia) and the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO/TDR) is conducting a pilot project to identify innovative community-based solutions for health care delivery issues related to infectious diseases in Central America and the Caribbean (CAC).

The goal of this collaboration is to provide evidence through research to advocate and advance social innovation in health to promote health and well-being.



  1. Identifying social innovation in health activities and initiatives by conducting a call for nomination

The collaboration will conduct an initial mapping through a call for solutions. The 2015 SIHI call for nominations highlighted 2 inspiring case studies in South America. This year, priority will be given to Central America and the Caribbean. The call for solutions was launched in June 2017.


  1. Generating new information and evidence on social innovation in health through the call and case studies

The partnership leading this initiative is strongly committed to evidence-based action and truly believes that research is a powerful tool to improve the lives of millions. Social innovation in health is a rising sector that addresses the need to better understand what works, what can be improved, and why this is important.

Up to three solutions will be identified by an external panel of prestigious experts from academia, the private sector, and the civil society. The panel will assess the submissions and submit their selections to be further studied through in-field research.

These case studies and the overall information generated by the call for solution will serve the collective knowledge and highlight the lessons learned.


  1. Building on the information to identify ways to advocate for social innovation in health, and to expand SIHI in the Americas

The collaboration will also address  ways to expand partnerships, interactions, and gather collective intelligence to move social innovation in health forward throughout the region. The evidence generated will serve to identify ways to advocate and amplify social innovation in health solutions.

The partnership will seek to create a virtual community of practice that promotes peer-learning, knowledge-sharing with stakeholders, and identifying new funding sources for 2018.