Ileana Morales: Science as passion and challenge

Ileana Morales: Science as passion and challenge
Fecha de publicación: 
16 March 2023
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Dr. Ileana Morales has a long pact of love, challenges, sacrifices, and commitments to science. She has spent over 36 years of her life teaching, researching, between leading positions and scientific projects.

Director of Science and Technological Innovation of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), this hard-working and professionally successful woman symbolizes the political will and gender equality that promoted the Cuban Revolution and its historic leader, Fidel Castro, since the 1960s.

With an unprecedented inclusion, they were called to be involved in the development of all vital fields for the nation. In particular, scientific activity would mark the fate of several generations and the main events to come.

The greatest incentive came after Fidel announced that the future of Cuba would necessarily have to be for men of science and thought. For Dr. Morales, it is a fact that the country always bet on the concept of social utility of this field of knowledge.

Attached to such an endeavor, she today treasures an impressive service record that includes research programs, some 100 articles and book publications, the leadership of several scientific commissions and inter-institutional research projects, among many other responsibilities.

Master of Science in Medical Education, Assistant Professor, First Degree Specialist in Human Anatomy and Second Degree in Public Health, Ileana's achievements are also fertile in her actions during the hard battle that the island waged to stop the scourge of SARS-CoV-2.

The Grand Annual Health Prize that she received in December 2022 attests to this. This award, the highest recognition conferred by MINSAP, was received along with 50 other colleagues for the study "Vaccination against COVID-19 in Cuba: a successful experience of innovative strategy in health.”

The work of the team was lauded for the feat that immunization represented in organizational, scientific and health terms; the high degree of complexity as a health intervention; the high level of trans and multidisciplinarity and the decisive contribution in the control of the pandemic at the national level.

Commenting on the award, Morales said that, as a woman, doctor, scientist, director and coordinator of the group that led this mission, "it meant a great honor and a debt to my colleagues, who from each province, municipality and vaccination clinic, made its materialization viable.”

In this sense, she specifies that it constitutes the culmination of a majestic work, of a milestone in national public health, in which over 100,000 people were involved, whose delivery allowed the entire process to become a reality.

Certainly, the two chaotic pandemic years managed to abrogate the traditional and unimaginable schemes of dealing with a health crisis. COVID-19 helped eradicate any ordinary response devised by health systems beyond imagination.

Evoking the concerns experienced by her, the doctor recalls that when the Science Group to confront COVID-19 was created —30 days before the first cases were diagnosed in Cuban territory—, “we never suspected what would happen in the coming months with this team.”

Thus began the very long work sessions, the exchanges with the highest State leadership, the desire to find answers to hundreds of questions, the search for pertinent solutions, the creation of our own action protocols, the approval of clinical trials...

As she acknowledges, the opportunity to permanently interact with scientists and experts with extensive experience and dissimilar areas of knowledge determined that, in any circumstance, a comprehensive and transdisciplinary view of the subject analyzed was necessary.

Hence, she treasures those days among the main lessons learned, which she now describes as "the enormous responsibility and honor I had to lead this group of magnificent people and scientists, most of them women."

They all stand out by talent and humility in their professional performance; the condition of being tireless workers, creative, optimistic, happy, brave and committed to the health of the people.

Without a doubt, Dr. Ileana Morales is a Cuban ready for these times of challenging paradigms. Her deep-rooted expertise allows her to overcome the obligations that fill the daily schedule and she tirelessly monitors the country and its scientific institutions.

“There is still a lot to do. We cannot be complacent and believe that we have advanced to a point and we can slow down the pace of work. We must do whatever that can be done. There are many results to introduce and generalize, new forms of collaboration and management to explore."

With this spirit of passionate dedication, she brings prestige, in herself, to the public health sector, where women represent 69.6 percent; that of science, innovation and technology (53.5 percent); that of research (42 percent), and the scientific field (48 percent).

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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