Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia: Outstanding performance of the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) students and alumni against COVID-19 pandemic

Since its foundation, the INSP has the goal of being a research and education center with high impact in Latin America, leader in the comprehensive training of the public health workforce and in the generation of knowledge required for the formulation, organization and management of public health policy. Each academic year, students from different regions of Mexico and from countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the United States, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela are trained at INSP. Then, at their home countries they join their national public health sectors. Currently, many of them are leading the efforts against COVID-19. As an example, Dr. Fernando Ruiz, originally from Colombia and a graduate of the INSP Doctoral program in Public Health, is the Colombian Minister of Health. While Miyerlandi Torres, a student of the Doctoral program in Public Health, leads the Ministry of Health of the city of Cali - the second city with most cases of Covid-19 in Colombia.

In the academic side, Dr. Julián Fernández-Niño, graduated from the Master in Biostatistics and the ScD in Epidemiology programs in INSP, is currently a professor in the Public Health Department at Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla. He is providing technical support in the fight against the pandemic, such as coordinating a project in partnership with NU Women to prevent and strength the institutional response to Gender-Based Violence against migrant girls and women in the Colombian Caribbean. He is also working on binational and migrant populations in the region and collaborating with various media outlets covering COVID-19.

In Bolivia, Dr. René Soria, alumni of the Master's in Public Health program at INSP and PhD in Health Services Research from Boston University, is an advisor for the scientific committee of the Bolivian State Presidency, integrated by public health professionals and medical specialists. They are working on he plans for de-escalation of the quarantine, development of mathematical models to project scenarios of COVID-19 dynamics, recommendations of public health policies, as well as general recommendations for treatment schemes, communication, and development of monitoring and evaluation indicators. In Ecuador, Mauricio Valencia Calvo, a physician alumnus of the INSP’s Master of Public Health and the Madrid’s University Complutense’s Masters in Health Management & Administration, is currently an independent consultant and instructor at the Catholic University of Ecuador. At the beginning of March he was invited by the Vice President of the Republic to a working group to explore possible pandemic scenarios and develop contingency plans. He has been invited to speak in private and public media to address the various concerns raise d by COVID-19.

In Mexico, the cultural diversity of our student population has also allowed us to have alumni from the various native peoples of Mexico. A graduate of our Masters in Public Health, in Epidemiology, Isabel Gardea is Director of Red Guachochi and Red Batopilas and Coordinator of Mobile Medical Units of Health Services of the northern state of Chihuahua. She is currently collaborating in the Emergency Operating Committee, as jurisdictional coordinator of the First Level, in the generation of daily reports at state level, on the use, and needs of material and human resources to deal with COVID-19, as well as in the daily report of the number of consultations in Emerging Disease Units. At the start of the contingency, the Chihuahua Health Services, in conjunction with the Guachochi city council —where there are 21,313 Rarámuris— worked on the production of COVID-19 audiovisual material in Rarámuri language.

One of our students in the Preventive Medicine Specialty program, Miguel García Salcido, is part of the health personnel working on the pandemic. “As part of the INSP community, I have been able to contribute at local level in response plans and the hospital reconversion of public and private institutions. Also I work on the systematization of diagnostic protocols, from the pre-analytical and analytical phase to the evaluation of the performance of diagnostic tests. At national level, I contribute to the creating and dissemination of multimedia content based on scientific evidence, including radio, television, and digital platforms. ”

These actions confirm INSP’s commitment to the formation of the best public health workforce. They reaffirm INSP’s position as a global center with great impact in Mexico and Latin America.

Dr. Fernando Ruiz

Dra. Miyerlandi Torres

Dr. René Soria

Dr. Mauricio Valencia

Dr. Miguel García Salcido
México /CDMX

Mtra. Isabel Gardea
México / Guachochi-Chihuahua