In order to discuss development, scientific research and the training of professionals in the disciplines of hygiene, epidemiology, microbiology and nutrition in Cuba, one must look to an institute that, founded over a century ago, remains the cornerstone of the Cuban public health system.
This May 17 marks the 115th anniversary of the National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology (INHEM), an institution that plays an essential role in improving the population’s health, as INHEM Director Dr. Disnardo Raúl Pérez González noted during a press conference.
The celebrations for this new anniversary, under the motto “More than a century in the service of Cuban health”, will be dedicated to the outstanding Cuban scientist and public health specialist, Carlos J. Finlay, internationally recognized for discovering that mosquitoes transmit yellow fever from infected to healthy humans; as well as to Fidel, the driving force of revolutionary public healthcare.
“Not only will we remember the history of INHEM, but we will reaffirm our research efforts and the duty of this institution to continue studies in the different areas that it groups. We must ground ourselves in history and look to the future; and this celebration should be an incentive to continue providing health to our people,” Pérez González stated.
According to the specialist, one of the main areas of research is directed to the surveillance of chronic noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors, as these are the leading causes of death in the country. In addition, nutrition and food safety, the problem of obesity, and micronutrient deficiency, are systematically studied, with a focus on the social determinants, as well as the environment and health, from the family level (local, school and housing), to mention just a few.
“This institute not only investigates, but also constitutes an important human resource training center. It helps train residents in the area of hygiene and epidemiology in the western region of the country, and teaches the environmental health masters program throughout the country, as well as other courses and workshops,” the director explained.
A wide range of scientific, educational and political-cultural activities will be held to celebrate the anniversary, which will conclude on May 17 with the central act and the seminar entitled “115 years alive in memory,” in reference to those figures who have honored the institute through their work, and dedicated their lives to hygiene, epidemiology, microbiology and nutrition in the country.
In addition, the 115th Anniversary of INHEM commemorative seal will be presented to individuals and institutions that have made an exceptional contribution to the progress of this field of public health.
Meanwhile, the program includes the “115 years on the path to the future” Scientific Graduates Day, with the participation of professionals of the different specialties taught by the institute, who will discuss their various disciplines.
Founded in 1902 as the Laboratory of the Island of Cuba, today INHEM is a National Entity of Science and Technological Innovation, attached to the Academy of Sciences of Cuba, authorized for postgraduate education in all its forms. It is also a Center of Excellence of the Environmental Training Network for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center in the area of Health in Housing; and National Reference Center for the study of food safety, nutrition and sanitary regulation of food, cosmetics, toys and other products to be consumed or used by the population. In addition it offers the specialized services of Microbiology and Sanitary Toxicology laboratories.