The first ever Cuba-Canada Maternal-Child Health Symposium was held in Varadero, Cuba and brought together leading clinicians and researchers from both countries to share research innovations in maternal and child health. Dr. Stephen Lye, Executive Director of the Alliance for Human Development (AHD) and Senior Investigator at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI), attended the symposium along with colleagues Dr. Laurent Briollais, Dr. Dan Farine, Dr. Shoo Lee, Dr. Stephen Matthews and Dr. Wendy Whittle from Sinai Health System and Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis from St. Michael’s Hospital.
Over the past few years, investigators within the Alliance for Human Development have engaged with colleagues from Cuba on several projects to improve maternal and child health. The collaboration is facilitated by having an AHD researcher, Dr. Yeneir Vera, based in Cuba. The Alliance for Human Development is based at the LTRI and supports research, education and knowledge mobilization to promote children’s health, well-being and social function.
“As a global leader in women’s and infants’ health issues, it’s our responsibility to engage with countries like Cuba to share key research initiatives and exchange knowledge that is mutually beneficial,” said Dr. Lye. “The first symposium was very successful – there’s excitement on both sides on how we can better collaborate and partner in the future.”
Sinai Health leaders presented their latest research findings at the symposium. The presentations focused innovations in pregnancy complications (such as preterm birth), maternal physical and mental health during pregnancy, models of newborn care and the importance of breastfeeding to child development. The team also planned further research and educational studies to be conducted jointly with Cuban researchers and clinicians.
“Early maternal and child health is a priority in Cuba, but unfortunately the country doesn’t have the resources to undertake large research studies,” said Dr. Lye. “The symposium provided a platform for clinical and research collaboration and we’re looking forward to doing it again next year.”