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FIDEC in South Florida (United States)

 Second Forum of Latin American Experts on Influenza 2022. On September 12, Dr. Hebe Vázquez and Dr. Luján Soler, from FIDEC, and the other members of the Latin American Vaccine Working Group met online for the Second Expert Forum. First, they reviewed the recommendations on influenza vaccination in the participating countries that they had discussed and developed during virtual meetings in June, July, and August. They then agreed on the final version of a consensus document to be published online on the Revista Panamericana de Enfermedades Infecciosas (Pan American Journal of Infectious Diseases), edited by the Pan American Association of Infectious Diseases. Finally, they committed to share the consensus document with Latin American healthcare professionals. Furthermore, they shot educational videos to get brief messages on influenza and its prevention across to the general public through social networks and mass media.

Forums of Latin American Experts on Influenza have been organized since 2021.

 Mes de la Salud de las Américas (October-December 2022). FIDEC actively participated in the commemoration of the Mes de la Salud de las Américas by spearheading initiatives across the consulates of Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico to spread awareness of vaccines and their crucial role in healthy communities. Apart from distributing printed educational materials, FIDEC delivered educational talks on the significance of influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, which engaged the audience in waiting rooms. Further extending their reach, FIDEC shared digital resources on social media platforms, equipping individuals with comprehensive information on vaccines and their recommendations.

Consulates are a key environment to broadely reach the Latin American community in South Florida.

 Awareness Day Campaigns. FIDEC continued to join national and international campaigns throughout the year to raise awareness of infectious disease prevention and noncommunicable diseases, and how to prevent them. These include the World Pneumonia Day (November 12), the International HPV Awareness Day (March 4), the Vaccination Week in the Americas (April 22-29), and the World Hepatitis Day (July 28), among others.

 International Papillomavirus Conference (IPVC 2023). Members of FIDEC actively took part in the 35th International Papillomavirus Conference & Basic, Clinical, and Public Health Scientific Workshops, a prestigious event that brought together 1,782 researchers, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals from over 105 countries. Held in Washington, DC, on April 17-21, 2023, the conference served as a platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas related to papillomaviruses and their associated diseases, spanning across diverse domains from fundamental scientific research to the global impact on public health.

FIDEC staff regularly participates in scientific meetings as speakers or attendees.

 Senior Health and Resource Fair. In partnership with the Miami Police Department and Overtown District Office, Heart Body & Mind Inc. organized this free community event targeting adults aged 50 years or over. It was held on May 16, 2023 at Gibson Park and featured health screenings, as well as health education sessions on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters; shingles, pneumonia, and Tdap vaccines, among other relevant topics.

To promote vaccination and dispel misconceptions, FIDEC actively participated by setting up an informative booth. They shared key facts on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, addressing concerns and myths surrounding the vaccines. Educational materials were available in both English and Spanish, including FIDEC’s brochures and materials of the national We Can Do This campaign.  Also, in collaboration with Walgreens Pharmacy, FIDEC facilitated access to bivalent COVID-19 vaccines for the event attendees, ensuring convenient and cost-free vaccination opportunities on the spot.

Older adults should complete their vaccination schedules because they are at a higher risk of complications of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

 Miami-Dade Immunization Coalition. Public and private organizations are making significant contributions to the Immunization Coalition, working alongside the Miami-Dade Health Department to elevate vaccination rates within the community. In June 2023, representatives gathered to discuss crucial subjects related to respiratory viruses in children and the corresponding vaccines. First, Federico Laham, member of FIDEC’s Board of Directors, provided an update on vaccines for influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Additionally, Joseph Borick, Infectious Disease Specialist at Miami VA Medical Center, delved into the topic of dengue and the available dengue vaccines. Finally, Lisa Gwynn, from the University of Miami, shed light on the outreach program designed to ensure the vaccination of children against COVID-19 in Miami-Dade. These insightful discussions aim to empower our community and foster a healthier, more resilient future.

The Miami-Dade Immunization Coalition is a member the National Network of Immunization Coalitions.

 National Immunization Awareness Month. August is a significant month to accomplish FIDEC’s mission. There is a pressing need to address the segment of the community that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has fallen behind their immunization schedules, as lower coverage rates increase the risk of outbreaks from preventable diseases. The annual campaigns, still ongoing in 2023, also emphasize the crucial task of vaccinating children before the school year begins. To facilitate this, FIDEC developed educational materials and extensively shared them via social media platforms, ensuring that accurate information reaches a wide audience.

 Back to School Vaccination Campaign. A Collective Effort for a Safer Future. FIDEC actively encouraged parents, guardians, educators, and healthcare providers to join hands and ensure that students return to the classroom strongly protected against preventable diseases. During a social media campaign launched on August 15, 2023, various messages and resources were shared, thus empowering adults to keep their children up to date with vaccinations before the school bell rang. Moreover, FIDEC emphasized the key role of vaccines since infancy and throughout a person’s life, regardless of their health status and, especially, as they age. Advice on visiting a physician for additional vaccines needed based on health, work, and travel was also provided.

 Runway to Knowledge Fashion Show: Empowering Education and Health through Fashion. On September 21, 2023, Key Biscayne was graced with the glitz and glamour of the 17th Annual Fashion Show and Breakfast “Runway to Knowledge”. This event is organized by FIDEC and Manos del Sur Foundation to raise funds for two ongoing initiatives that have been transforming lives and communities in Argentina and beyond. The first program, carried out by Las Tunas, a nonprofit organization founded in 2002, focuses on providing underprivileged students with an opportunity to learn about technology, entrepreneurial workshops, music, and art. The second program spreads knowledge about the immune system and the significance of vaccinations. Launched in 2021, this innovative educational effort seeks to teach children about the immune system’s wonders and the role vaccines play in safeguarding their health.

FIDEC and FUNCEI in Latin America

 First 1,000 Days of Nutrition for a Healthy LifeFIDEC delivered cans of hypercaloric food, iron, ferrous sulfate, and vitamins for pregnant women and children at the Dr. Arturo Illia Hospital in El Sauzalito, in the province of Chaco (Argentina). There, from 2021 to 2022, they carried out with FUNCEI the First 1,000 Days of Nutrition for a Healthy Life campaign to promote proper nutrition from conception to the age of two. This is a key period of human development, since it is considered a “window of opportunity” for a person to achieve their full potential throughout life. Such an initiative was crucial in El Sauzalito, where almost 120 births are registered per year, because many children under 1 year of age are fed with unfortified cow’s milk instead of formula once they have stopped breastfeeding. Because cow’s milk is low in iron and rich in saturated fat, it can be harmful to infant health. Moreover, many women in the area suffer from anemia during pregnancy. Therefore, FIDEC’s work, with the support of all their contributors, facilitated access to essential nutrients, despite the difficulties in transporting goods through the region called El Impenetrable.

 Day to support vaccination in San Miguel. On October 1, 2022, FUNCEI participated in an open day event organized by the Municipality of San Miguel, in the province of Buenos Aires (Argentina), to promote vaccination. This activity was held in parallel to the launching of the campaign implemented nationwide by the National Ministry of Health to protect children aged 1-4 years from measles, rubella, mumps, and polio.

FUNCEI’s Education and Children’s Publications Department developed play-based learning activities coordinated by a group of entertainers, who explained to the children the importance of vaccines for growing healthy. In San Miguel's main square, a vaccination room was recreated for them to play at vaccinating their stuffed animals. In addition, they sat for reading rounds of the book Hacete amigo de la vacuna (Become Friends of Vaccines), published by FUNCEI, and took part in interactive representations of the “fight” between disease-causing germs and the defenders of the immune system. Finally, Débora Greco, Pediatrician and Infectious Disease Specialist at FUNCEI, gave advice on vaccines to the families who had come to the square to get vaccinated at a stand run by professionals from the San Miguel Hospital.

FUNCEI granted children a joyful learning experience and exhibited their book collection for all ages.

 The Power of the Immune System and Vaccines. The second edition of this campaign designed and coordinated by FUNCEI’s Education and Children’s Publications Department ended in 2022. It was implemented in family action centers, child development centers, and A la Par (Program of Accompaniment to Pregnant Women and Families), located in vulnerable neighborhoods of the City of Buenos Aires and dependent on the General Bureau of Child and Teen Development of the Ministry of Human Development and Habitat.

The objective of this successful experience, which was supported by Pfizer, was to raise awareness among center operators, students, and families of the importance of self-care practices to strengthen the immune system. Emphasis was placed on vaccination as a strategy to prevent infectious diseases. Together with the medical team, professionals from FUNCEI’s Education and Children’s Publications Department trained the operators and explained the guidelines for using the printed and digital didactic materials provided as part of this educational proposal. Among them was the book Los defensores de nuestra salud. El sistema inmunológico (Bodyguards of our Health. The Immune System), republished in 2022.

The campaign, managed by the center operators for three months, involved 1,185 children aged 2-12 years and their families. They exhibited their productions at the Health Fair during the closing event, which was held at the Multipurpose Hall of the Ministry of Human Development and Habitat on November 16. “As we went around the different booths, boys and girls quickly and enthusiastically responded about everything they had learned. It was a wonderful event, and the children were the main actors,” recalled Cristina Stamboulian, director of FUNCEI’s Education and Children’s Publications Department.

This campaign was declared of educational interest by the General Bureau of Child and Teen Development (Ministry of Human Development and Habitat of the City of Buenos Aires).

Children creatively worked on the campaign contents and showed their productions at the Health Fair during the closing event.

 FUNCEI and FIDEC Epidemiology Newsletter. At the end of 2022, the foundations sent out the last issue of this free, digital publication for healthcare professionals, which they edited since 2010. Nearly 16,000 subscribers in Latin America, the United States, and other countries received it on a monthly basis. It was also available for download on FIDEC and FUNCEI’s websites. With Dr. Daniel Stamboulian as Director, this project was led by Dr. Lilián Testón (writer and coordinator) and Soledad Llarrull (copy editor). It was sponsored by Pfizer.

 A Ciencia Cierta (TV Show). In 2023, FUNCEI’s TV show completed 20 uninterrupted seasons in Argentina. Its goals are to inform the community and increase awareness of the prevention of diseases and their complications, and of other ways to promote health at each life stage. A positive attitude is also encouraged to manage risk factors, prevent risky behaviors, and thus improve daily life. In addition, FUNCEI aims to is to collaborate with public and private institutions that produce educational material to the same end.

Since 2020, A Ciencia Cierta has been recorded at FUNCEI's studio.

Dr. Daniel Stamboulian, host and Scientific Director of the program, and María Teresa Rosanova, cohost and Medical Coordinator since 2021, discuss each topic with local and/or international specialists, addressing patients’ most common concerns. An interdisciplinary team also works daily to provide the community with the best healthcare information and recommendations to improve their quality of life. Moreover, there is a section for medical trivia, general interest topics, and Dr. Stamboulian’s usual reflections.


Broadcasts since 2003


Medical issues addressed


Guests specialized in various branches of medicine.

In September 2022, for the fourth time, A Ciencia Cierta was nominated for the Martín Fierro Award for Best Health Program on Cable. Since then, some twenty-five broadcasts have been offered to the public—five of them with original topics—, and ten new guests have participated. It is the most watched program on METRO channel, on which it airs on Wednesdays at 4:30 pm. It can also be watched on other Argentine cable TV operators: #8 on Cablevisión and Flow, #511 on Telecentro, and #55 on Red Intercable. Besides its own YouTube channel, with over 200 programs uploaded and over 200,000 total views, it has a strong presence on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. Thus it has reached a rating of 0.1 (equivalent to 10 000 people a week) and, on a monthly basis through TV and social networks, it reaches 53,600 people. Therefore, many important companies have joined broadcast sponsors. Tulio De Rose is in charge of production, cameras, editing, and direction.

A Ciencia Cierta (TV Show)
2006 FUND TV Award
2010 Special mention, TV category, Gota en el Mar Award for Charitable Journalism
2017 Award nomination, Martín Fierro Award for Best Health Program on Cable

 Polio Eradication. FIDEC’s contributions to this global initiative are having a wider impact. The novel oral polio vaccine, codeveloped by experts and organizations from different countries, such as FIDEC, became in 2023 the vaccine of choice for controlling outbreaks of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2. Expecting final approval by year-end, it will be crucial for Western countries detecting the virus in sewage.

Also in 2023, the World Health Organization's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization recommended a flexible approach using the vaccine for outbreak response in shorter intervals of at least one week, based on results of a study sponsored by FIDEC to be published on the Lancet Infectious Diseases. Financially supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FIDEC has participated in polio research projects since 2012. A new study will soon be starting in Bangladesh to evaluate pharyngeal mucosal immunity and prevention of poliovirus transmission (see Eradicating Polio, an Ongoing Public Health Commitment).

Vaccination as part of the study sponsored by FIDEC in the Dominican Republic to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of the novel oral polio vaccine.

 Stamboulian Talks. Meet UpSince March 2023, FUNCEI is streaming the sixth consecutive season of Stamboulian Talks, a cycle of free and interactive lectures for updating and continuous education of physicians, pharmacists, biochemists, and nurses from Latin America and other Spanish-speaking communities. More than 45,000 subscribers now choose this learning format because they can also interact live or by email with the invited experts. As a novelty and due to the growing interest in participating, on July 13 the first hybrid meeting entitled Stamboulian Talks. Meet Up was held in the auditorium of the Barceló Foundation in Buenos Aires. A total of 60 health professionals attended the four consecutive sessions, and 475 joined the simultaneous Zoom event (see Meet Up: the novelty of the sixth cycle for professionals).

 Vaccines Save LivesMore than 38,000 children and adolescents from 17 Argentine provinces participated in this campaign, which was conducted by Cintya Elmassian, from FUNCEI’s Education and Children’s Publications Department, in alliance with the Rotary Club, responsible for the arrangements with the authorities of the educational institutions. The goal was to raise awareness of the importance of vaccines and to promote their application at each life stage based on the National Vaccination Schedule.

The actions started within the framework of the Vaccination Week in the Americas, on April 24-30, 2023, and were aimed at families, pregnant women, older adults, and healthcare professionals. Elmassian and Claudia Toledo designed the didactic proposal, which included printed and audiovisual material with suggested activities for each school level. FUNCEI also donated 1,300 books for school libraries, gave virtual talks and held workshops, and shared updated information in the media and social networks (see Vaccines Save Lives).

 Virtual course on infections available in the Educational Portal of Arcor FoundationSince July 2023, the course Healthy Educational Spaces: Key Aspects of Cleaning and Disinfection is offered in the Educational Portal of Arcor Foundation, with free and open access. It is aimed at teachers or other staff members at educational centers, toy libraries, or school canteens, as well as to the general public. Its main goal is that people who work with children learn more about common infectious diseases and their transmission, and the basic preventive measures. Course contents were prepared by FUNCEI’s Education and Children’s Publications Department, with the medical advice and coordination of the pediatrician María Teresa Rosanova, and the editorial collaboration of Ana Paula Cordero and Soledad Llarrull. The technical development and implementation were carried out by the Arcor Foundation’s Educational Portal team (see Helping Prevent Infections in Educational Settings).

 Training on healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistanceIn August 2023, FUNCEI, together with the Ministry of Health of Chubut and Pan American Energy, offered a new training on healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance in Puerto Madryn (Argentina). It was addressed to the Infection Committee of the Andrés Ísola Hospital and to the technical teams of the related departments. Two renowned Argentine specialists lectured: Joaquín Bermejo, head of Infectious Diseases at the Spanish Hospital in Rosario, and Magdalena Pennini, biochemist and head of Bacteriology at Stamboulian Servicios de Salud’s Laboratory in Buenos Aires. This activity was planned as part of the Program for the Control of Healthcare-Associated Infections in Patagonia, carried out by FUNCEI, together with Pan American Energy. Under the direction of Dr. Daniel Stamboulian, working group members are Diego Fridman, Roxana Stamboulian, Cirlia Álvarez, and Silvia Margalejo Raffín.

Local healthcare professionals during the training activity offered by FUNCEI.

FIDEC in Armenia

 Shirak Health Project. In July 2022, FIDEC Armenia, with the financial support of the Armenian community in Argentina, launched the Shirak Health Project, a comprehensive healthcare program aimed at vulnerable rural communities within the Shirak province, one of the poorest in the country. The main goal is to provide the population with targeted quality medical services for free. The secondary goal is to contribute to building a culture of health among the rural population through community education and attitude change towards of their health.

First, the pilot project was carried out in Horom and Pemzashen, in the Artik region, from July 2022 to March 2023. The main group of beneficiaries were women and men aged 40-75. In total, these 240 adults underwent comprehensive check-ups and became aware of their health status, including discovering the most prevalent health conditions in the area, such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, thyroid gland problems, and gynecological or urological disorders. Awareness about their health problems, along with the knowledge, tools, and treatments provided, allowed the community members to follow up the course of their conditions and put preventive measures and lifestyle habits into practice.

Overall, the planning and results of the pilot project helped validate the assumptions about the prevalent health conditions of people living in the Artik region, within the Shirak province. Based on these findings, the actions’ design was adjusted and the second stage was developed. It started in October 2023 and will also target 240 beneficiaries in Jajur and Akhurik, remote and vulnerable villages. Both bordering Turkey, they have many socioeconomic problems, including no gas in households despite enduring the coldest and longest winters in the country, and poor road conditions that impair travel and restrict access to quality healthcare during the snowy winter months.

Shirak Medication Project, supported by Fonatón 2022. Every year, the Armenia Fund of Argentina (Fondo Armenia), presided by Alejandro Kalpakian, holds a telephone fundraising campaign or “phone-a-thon” (in Spanish, fonatón). The donations received on November 18-19, 2022 helped finance the Shirak Medication Project, designed and carried out by FIDEC Armenia, and covered for six months the cost of treatment of about 400 chronic cardiovascular patients in two low-income communities in the Shirak province: Horom and Pemzashen. FIDEC Armenia thus continued with the comprehensive health program started in July 2022. Additional funds to provide medications to the Jajur and Akhurik communities are expected to be raised.

Invitation shared in social media to invite people to participate in the fonatón and support FIDEC's project in Armenia.

 Fun Fitness for AllOn May 15, 2023, FIDEC Armenia officially opened the first outdoor fitness and workout station in Ditavan, a community within the Tavush province. It is the first of five priority regions to be reached by this initiative, generously supported by Nadya Kaspar and the Ekserciyan family, and in partnership with Street Workout Armenia. The main goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle among young people and adults in Armenia, and thus improve their quality of life. Hence, the program motto is "Your Health is precious! Exercise regularly, eat healthy, be happy!". At present, public places for physical activity are scarce, especially, in rural areas. The stations will be strategically placed in all major parks and recreational areas, as well as near cultural centers, youth centers, and community libraries. Priority sites are cities and villages in the provinces of Syunik, Tavush, Gegharkunik, Shirak, and Vayots Dzor (see Fun Fitness for All!).

The communty of Ditavan was overjoyed by the new outdoor fitness station!

6th International Medical Congress of Armenia and Presentation of Results from the HPV Infection Prevalence Study. FIDEC Armenia provided comprehensive organizational support for the 6th International Medical Congress of Armenia (6IMCA), which was held on July 6-8, 2023 in Yerevan. They helped with promotional actions and directed donors and funds to contribute to the success of the 6IMCA. In addition, they especially hosted a social event for congress participants at Karas Vineyards, property of the company Tierras de Armenia, where FIDEC Armenia has carried out the TDA Occupational Health Program for 15 years.

Dr. Stamboulian’s video message inviting to attend the Congress. 

Traditionally attended by thousands of physicians and healthcare professionals from Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh, and the Diaspora, this event “is considered to be a unique platform for setting priorities and facilitating the exchange and localization of best practices in healthcare and medicine,” as stated on the official webpage. One of the plenary speakers was Iacopo Baussano, Infectious Disease Specialist, Epidemiologist, and FIDEC Armenia’s partner from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialized agency of the World Health Organization. Baussano presented the results of the Epidemiological Study to Determine the Prevalence of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection in Armenia, conducted between 2018 and 2022 in partnership with FIDEC Armenia and the Armenian Ministry of Health. These new data will help the country’s public health officers and medical professionals target HPV infection and control cervical cancer more effectively.

Announcements of the 6IMCA and presentation by Dr. Iacopo Baussano, FIDEC’s partner and invited plenary speaker.

In a separate event organized for local physicians by FIDEC Armenia, in partnership with the Armenian Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Health, and the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Baussano and Ricardo Rüttimann, Vaccine Unit Director at FIDEC and HPV Study Lead, covered the main aspects of the study and explained FIDEC’s role in bringing the research to Armenia and locally coordinating it. They also highlighted the impact such data will have on making decisions about public health policies, while also serving as an excellent basis for effective communication between the local doctors and community, especially teens and parents who still hesitate about the HPV vaccine, even if it protects against many cancers caused by HPVs. This remarkable event was moderated by Gayane Sahakyan, Armenia National Immunization Program Manager and Deputy Director of NCDC.