Outstanding individuals and institutions in the field of medical sciences were recognized during the 42nd edition of the Annual Health Prize awarded by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health (Minsap) in honor of contributions made to scientific knowledge, the training of human resources, and illness prevention and treatment.
This year’s competition included a total of 440 submissions from over 80 institutions nationwide, including research centers, polyclinics, hospitals, and universities. There were a total of 124 winners, 75 of which received the traditional prize, while 35 were awarded for PhD papers and 14 to Masters or specialty dissertations.
Some of the winning institutions included: The Hereditary Ataxias Rehabilitation Research Center in the province of Holguín; the universities of medical sciences in Havana, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Guantánamo; Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute; Molecular Immunology Center; Camagüey Provincial Healthcare Office; Neurological Rehabilitation Center; and Center for the Development of Medicines.
Meanwhile, 38 finalists were chosen from among the categories of PhD thesis, Masters and specialty dissertation, applied and basic research, medical education, and scientific books and articles, with the Grand Prize going to Dr. Valentín Salvador Rodríguez Moya, for his paper: Exogenous surfactant and pulmonary recruitment in treating acute respiratory distress syndrome.
His work focuses on the outcomes of an investigation stemming from clinical trials with the use of exogenous surfactant, the results of which are accessible online via the Clinical Respiratory Journal; indexed in important databases, and regarded by the international medical community as one of the best publications in its field.
Dr. Rodríguez Moya’s original, multi-centered, national investigation shows the effectiveness of Surfacen, a natural Cuban surfactant produced by the National Center for Animal Health (Censa) which, when combined with alveolar recruitment improves survival rates of children suffering from respiratory distress.
The study was undertaken in conjunction with the National Center for Clinical Trials and Censa and was overseen by a pediatric critical care specialist from Camagüey and head of the multidisciplinary team of authors who contributed to the paper.
Regarding his work, Dr. Rodríguez Moya explained to Granma International, “This scientific investigation helps us to establish methodologies to reduce infant mortality in children under five years of age in the country. We are currently conducting clinical trials to get the treatment on the country’s basic list of medicines. We started the investigation in 2009 and by 2013-2014 were ready to register it on the national health register, before beginning the fourth phase of clinical trials in 2016.”
Rodríguez Moya works in the municipality of Nuevitas, Camagüey province, and described the award as an honor and privilege, after having been selected from among other highly important works.
“It represents the prestige of participating in a national event which recognizes the most important research being done in the country,” he noted.
Meanwhile, three eminent doctors were presented with the Scientific Merit Award for their life’s work: a fitting tribute to those who have made a significant contribution to Cuba’s public healthcare system and shown their commitment to the work of the Revolution in this field.
The award is recognition of their efforts and sacrifice teaching new generations of professionals, their research, and daily work to improve the health of all Cubans.
On this occasion the three winners included Dr. Evelio Liberato Cabezas Cruz, Gynecology and Obstetrics specialist, tenured professor, consultant lecturer and merited researcher at the University of Medical Sciences of Havana, who has received numerous awards and distinctions, and written or co-authored over 21 books.
Evelio served as a temporary advisor to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Cancer specialist on the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA). He is also a Gynecology and Obstetrics professor, and was a founder and head of the Cuban Society and National Group for this specialty, for over 50 years.
Regarding his work, the obstetrician stated, “I’m still active; I teach classes and work at the Hernández Pérez OB/GYN Hospital, known to most Cubans as Marianao’s Maternidad Obrera. I am a member of the Cuban Society for Family Development and support cervical-uterine cancer prevention and treatment efforts.
“Cuba’s main strength in this area lies in its cervical screening of all women 25 years of age and older. This exam helps us to detect potentially pre-cancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix, so our main efforts are focused on convincing all women to take a Pap smear test,” stated the doctor who dedicated his award to all the people that have contributed to his career.
The second winner was Dr. Néstor Manuel Pérez Lache, Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology specialist; tenured professor at the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) University of Medical Sciences; consultant lecturer, full and merit researcher, and member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences. He has won the Annual Health Award three times; published over 50 articles in important Cuban and international medical journals; and is the author of three books.
Pérez Lache is a recognized national and international expert on neuroplasticity, higher nervous system and brain activity; and has used neurodynamic stoichiometrics to achieve important scientific results linked to neurodynamic functionality in the cerebral cortex in individuals of certain occupations or professions, such as musicians, chess players, dancers, and the visually impaired.
In this regard he noted: “All my work and the recognitions I have received have been thanks to the Revolution. There are no medical professionals in my family and it was Cuba’s socio-political system that gave me the opportunity to become a doctor. Fidel Castro Ruz has always been an example for me, and I try hard to do better and improve myself every day, guided by the great revolutionary leader.”
The third and final winner of the Scientific Merit Award was dentist Félix Alberto Companioni Landin PhD, specialist in Human Anatomy, tenured and merit professor at Havana’s University of Medical Sciences; consultant lecturer, full and merit researcher, and two times winner of the Annual Health Prize.
Among his many awards, distinctions and honors, Companioni Landin has received the Alma Mater Prize; Manuel Fajardo Rivero, Carlos J. Finlay, and Pepito Tey medals; Cuban Education distinction; Order of Excellence from Villa Clara; professor Honoris Causa at the University of Aquino, Bolivia; and Guest of Honor at La Plata’s Dental School in Argentina.
“To receive this award, in the month of October makes me think of the death of Camilo Cienfuegos, one of the greatest losses to the Revolution, and a man who had so much more to offer to our social development. It also makes me think of our legendary heroic guerilla Ernesto Che Guevara, who was murdered 50 years ago in Bolivia. Both leaders were, for the Revolution, an impetus for the country’s economic and social growth. I also remember our great historic leader, Fidel Castro Ruz, who led the Revolution for over 60 years. Today, we follow his work, thought, and legacy to help us continue to move forward,” he stated.