CRICS V in numbers
The fifth edition of CRICS, held this April 24-27 in Havana, Cuba, consolidated the event as the most important congress in Health Information Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean. The final figures reported here are truly amazing, with a total of 814 participants from 37 different countries. In addition to the countries of the Region itself, there were 90 participants from a total of 11 different countries of North America, Europe, and Africa.
There were 685 participants, including a large contingent of Cubans. CRICS V also included 36 exhibitors and 25 guest speakers, plus 50 journalists covering the event .
In addition to the excellent overall content in every day of the Congress, continuing education occupied an outstanding role in the program. CRICS V included 4 parallel seminars, plus a total of 8 courses, backed by over 30 computers simultaneously connected on-line.
In addition, 59 participants took part in the Cuban National Organizing Committee alongside the other members of the International Organizing Committee. Among the extraordinary services provided by these teams was an Internet Café equipped with over 10 computers available free of cost to all participants and connected to the Internet through a state-of-the-art wireless network.
The overall Congress organization was highly efficient and friendly, especially with regard to the cordiality, spontaneity, and human warmth of the Cubans. Free activities like welcoming and socializing parties were also a tremendous success.
The importance of CRICS V is reflected in the figures, but its priceless content will remain in the memory of all participants as a legacy of the work that still remains to be built by all. This Congress definitely consolidates CRICS as the main forum for Health Sciences Information in the Latin American and Caribbean Region. Underlying the main theme, Knowledge for Change, a milestone was left at the beginning of this millennium for advancement and sharing of knowledge, in addition to the necessary changes in the field.
With collaboration from a broad range of speakers and discussants, we sought to identify the main conceptual and practical advances in the field. The central theme of Information for Equity in Health has and will continue to demand a more in-depth analysis of its determinants. The power of new information technologies is certain to be a tool to help include the excluded. Health care is facing new ethical issues in social and political life, and health professionals and even patients should make use of new information technologies every day, a trend that requires new roles. Another serious issue is the digital divide that hinders access to knowledge. While information both changes itself and introduces changes in society, it becomes a public good, a factor meriting better treatment by the international community and governments.
Complementing this line of reasoning, CRICS V moved forward by focusing on the increasing importance of health information scientific networks. Whether they be linked to institutions or communities, such networks are moving into an increasingly participatory scenario. Integrated with the new forms of management allowed by new information technologies, they are expected to be ready to generate facts, as in the approach between research and decision-making. All this broad array of work in Health Information is expected to be well utilized, sparking reflection and positive changes.
For professionals from the Health Sciences Information sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, Havana will remain as a memorable milestone. The Declaration of Havana, with the sub-title Towards Equitable Access to Health Information, should orient activities in the field for the coming period. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, and it could not be otherwise.
Our next venue for a great new meeting is scheduled for Mexico two years from now. Mexico will host the Sixth Regional Congress on Health Sciences Information in the year 2003. The results, conclusions, and new analyses to be presented at this still distant event depend to a major extent on all of us. Based on all our results and reflections, and reiterating the role of the Virtual Health Library, it is time to continue to build, to continue to encourage governments and agencies both public and private, national and international, to ensure that all citizens of Latin America and the Caribbean have access to health information. Only thus can this public good, so necessary for achieving a state of individual and collective health, attain the true meaning of the word equity. So we'll see each other in Mexico!
Declaration of Havana