The network of social innovators in health expands its work agenda to strengthen health systems

27 Oct 2020
Innovación para la salud

Six countries in the Region responded to the calls of the Initiative for Social Innovation in Health to strengthen health systems, and during September and October 2020 they showcase their contribution to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Washington, DC, 27 October 2020. (PAHO)- The Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) convened more than 40 health innovation initiatives in 19 countries, -mainly low- and middle-income- that have organized and shared their knowledge, experiences, lessons learned, and research resulting from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The region of the Americas -represented by social innovators from Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, and Peru participated in the call with 8 initiatives that highlighted the role of innovators in finding answers to the new challenges of their communities as a consequence of the pandemic, and in collaboration with local authorities to improve their capacities.

SIHI is a network of institutions that share the common goal of advancing social innovation in health through research, capacity building, and advocacy, to accelerate progress towards Universal health and the Sustainable Development Goals. This initiative is led by the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and co-sponsored by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF, ​​and the World Bank. PAHO has been part of the Secretariat since 2015.

SIHI in the Americas

In search of new alliances, the Secretariat of SIHI for Latin America and the Caribbean (SIHI-LAC), convened the members of the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance on Social Innovation for Health ALACISS, and other members of SIHI-LAC, to the Global meeting of the SIHI Network with philanthropic entities to participate in the series of five workshops organized by SIHI global - held in September and October 2020 - with the aim of promoting and allowing a favorable environment for social innovation in a local and global level by philanthropic organizations, in addition to defining common strategies and projects to promote their commitment.

“The integration of inter-institutional capacities for research and the application of social innovation in health are essential to reduce barriers to access to health," said Amalia Del Riego, Chief of the PAHO/WHO Health Services and Access unit. “These have been shown that they benefit the strengthening of health systems by expanding the quality, coverage, and access to health services,” added. 

SIHI-LAC was created in May 2017 as a collaboration between the International Center for Medical Training and Research (CIDEIM), the Icesi University, and PAHO that provides a regional perspective and a policy framework.

New SIHI node in Honduras: progress

Among other advances in the Region of the Americas, in September 2020 a new SIHI node was launched in Honduras within the framework of the first Virtual Congress of the Scientific Research Unit (UIC) of the Faculty of Medical Sciences (FCM), and with the aim of contributing to the development of research for health in Honduras. In this context, experts on social innovation in health and health systems, as well as the SIHI secretariat for the Americas and PAHO discussed the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic represents for health systems, and how social innovation can contribute to the response.

“The region of the Americas has shown significant growth in coverage and impact on innovative initiatives in research for health, promoted by the communities and carried out with the support of SIHI-LAC, as highlighted in the recognition ceremony for the 2019 Social Innovation Initiative in Health awards and in the framework of the activities of the Universal Health Day in 2019, ” said Luis Gabriel Cuervo, Senior Advisor on Research for Health at PAHO/WHO. "It is important to highlight that the initiatives supported by SIHI have grown sustainably, observing the particularities of the Region and adjusting to the new conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic," added.