Photo: Jose M. Correa

Evaluating progress and analyzing results achieved in the training of professionals in the field of medical technologies were among the goals of the 3rd International Health Technologies Conference, held in Havana, March 27-31.

The gathering additionally served to promote research on public health systems and services, and establish cooperation between Cuban and other institutions around the world, to contribute to the important work of medical technicians.

Under the banner of "For health and sustainable, judicious development," the forum allowed for interaction around pedagogical issues of both a theoretical and methodological nature, among professionals and technicians, with the goal of improving medical attention and strengthening ties between different actors in the field.

The event was organized to include symposia, workshops, and meetings, including the 4th International Podiatry Congress; the 8th External Fixation Workshop; the 4th Imaging Encounter; a workshop entitled, Electro-medicine: Prospects and Challenges; the third meeting of health technology students; plus several international meetings of professionals in nutrition and dietetics, optometry, physical rehabilitation, pharmacy, and bio-analysis.

Dr. María Lazo Pérez, vice president of the event's organizing committee, emphasized to the press, that in March of 2009 and 2014 two similar events were held, but that this year's gathering was distinguished by greater participation on the part of students, who are promoting the extension of experience gained in research projects.

Dr. Lazo, head of the University of Havana Health Technologies school's post-graduate department of Science, Innovation, and Technology, reported that one of the main activities was a meeting to reactivate the Central American and Caribbean chapter of the International Health Technicians Educational Network, in which the latest equipment, bibliographic materials, and experiences are shared.

The professor added, "Leading up to this convention, 36 pre-Congress classes were offered, coordinated by professionals recognized in their fields. Participating in this opportunity were our students, looking to acquire knowledge useful in their work. This aids the training process at the undergraduate level and motivates them to apply a wealth of scientific knowledge, that can strengthen the epistemic foundation of technicians as future researchers."

Also part of the convention were master classes, plus a exposition fair featuring associated technologies, projects, and novelties in the sector.

Dr. Lazo explained that the Health Technologies department in the University of Havana Medical School, acts as the guiding body regarding methodology for provincial training centers, responsible for preparing health services support personnel in lab analysis, optometry, rehabilitation, imaging, pharmacy, nutrition, statistics, and other areas.

Graduating from these centers as intermediate level technicians after a four year course are students who begin once they have completed the ninth grade, and those who earn a high school diploma in different specialties who take an adapted two or three year course. Also trained here are university students earning degrees in Health Technologies. Dr. Lazo explains, "With these three levels, we have established different study programs, because responsibilities on the job are different."

She recalled that Cuba has been providing university degrees in medical sciences since the 1970s, and early in first decade of the 21st century, on the initiative of Fidel, a higher education program in Health Technologies was created. Today the country prepares MSc and PhD professionals who do important research in the field.

"Our challenge at the convention," Dr. Lazo concluded, "was to promote instructive exchanges, that would help us define strategies directed toward guaranteeing the quality training of our professionals, so they can provide better services to the population."