NEWS FROM LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

APRIL 2020

Activities at CTA

So far in 2020, two new institutions have joined the WAITRO network from Latin America (LATAM) and the Caribbean. At the beginning of the year the University of Costa Rica was linked to the network. This is an institution of higher education and culture, dedicated to teaching, research, social action, study, meditation, artistic creation and the dissemination of knowledge. In April of this year, the CES University joined the network to contribute, from its missionary objectives of teaching, research, innovation, extension and sustainability, to the development of society and to the formation of free, autonomous, ethical human beings that are scientific and competent in a globalized world. The WAITRO Secretariat and the RFP of Latin America and the Caribbean welcome these 2 institutions to the WAITRO network.

Several RTOs in the region have been working on their proposals for the WAITRO innovation award on the subject of water; so far, there are plans to present more than 5 challenges between the CTA-CES-INECOL-CIB for the Innovation Award 2020.

The LATAM RTOs are contributing their knowledge and capacity to the region to counter COVID-19 and on some cases this overlaps with the water focus. The Environmental Biotechnology Group of the Institute of Ecology-INECOL in Mexico is pleased to share two efficient and low-cost ecological technologies that are used to clean contaminated water from rivers or ponds near communities. In the paper “Coronavirus Challenge: How To Provide Clean Water In Small Communities” they present phyto-technologies, i.e. technologies that use aquatic plants to filter and absorb excess nutrients or other contaminants. This investigative work was proposed to solve access problems and not having enough clean water for essential practices such as hand washing and daily toilets to prevent COVID-19 as shown in the photographs.

Figure 1: “Phytofiltration lagoon” at Institute of Ecology’s Biorefinery to treat polluted water from an urban river with Pistia stratiotes. Figure 2: Floating Wetlands used to improve

Activities at CES University

CES reports work in several areas relevant to the detection, treatment and mitigation of Covid-19:

  • Training for Health professionals in the city of Medellín and the regions of Colombia through a virtual education program in COVID-19, by which more than 20,000 people are currently trained.
  • Design and production of R60-P6 suits for health care personnel in hospital centers. This project was developed in cooperation with Industrias Crystal and Compañía de Empaques in the city of Medellín.
  • 15 epidemiologists from the CES University conduct epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 in the municipalities of the department of Antioquia. In this process, they provide advice and follow-up to registered cases with the support of the Antioquia Interior Ministry’s Health Secretariat.
  • Production of spray booths sinks and portable devices as elements for the protection of construction and infrastructure personnel to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the city of Medellín.
  • Carrying out diagnostic PCR tests, aimed at the population at risk in Medellín through early detection and intervention with Public Health measures as a strategy to contain the viral expansion of COVID-19.

Activities at The Biological Research Corporation

Staff at CIB formulated a COVID-19 telematics system for personal pre-diagnosis of recognized symptoms (STOP COVID); which aims to contribute to the efficient use of health care resources during the COVID-19 pandemic through a mobile platform that allows large scale remote pre-diagnosis. The project was approved by the Colombian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and is close to being executed.