April 27 2022
Mauren esquivel

CAHI Fellows Program

Interview with Prof. Alcira Castillo

Alcira Castillo has extensive knowledge on social determinants of health, equity and health promotion, for which she has served as coordinator and tutor in virtual and face-to-face courses of PAHO/WHO and COLAM/OUI for many years.

She has a career as a teacher and researcher at the Faculty of Medicine, School of Public Health, at the University of Costa Rica, where she held the position of Director for 6 years. She is a visiting professor at the Medical Sciences campus in the Doctorate of Public Health at the University of Puerto Rico. International advisor.

We approached Professor Alcira Castillo a few minutes after finishing her class for the group of the sixth generation of CAHI Fellows and this was the interview we conducted with her:

How do you feel after this class with a new group of CAHI Fellows?

Alcira: I love working with new groups, because they are starting this process and they are always very professional in approaching their ideas and projects. I perceive that they are well selected, that they come with a lot of commitment, motivation and desire to learn. One as a teacher perceives all these qualities and that motivates to exercise teaching. In addition, this is a subject that I am very passionate about. I was at the University of Costa Rica for 30 years, but here at INCAE within the CAHI program I feel at home again, everything is very pleasant and welcoming.

How does your professional journey connect with the contribution you make today to the CAHI Fellows program?

Alcira: I would say that being in teaching for a large part of my life, and in the direction of a public health institution for 7 years, has marked me a lot in terms of the responsibility of training human resources, especially in this field of public health. In the work with the social determinants of health, it is necessary to have people with critical thinking in Central America, because there is much that needs to be done, it is necessary to begin to break patterns, innovate, and for this it is ideal to start with these projects, which they are small interventions with the capacity to break and open paths.

What is your perspective on CAHI's strategy in strengthening leaders in the health field?

Alcira: I have learned a lot from this methodology, which I think is very good. Through my experience at CAHI I have learned a lot about its project management methodologies and about the ways in which groups interact to support each other and exchange knowledge. I feel that it is very important in this job.

I also feel that one of the most significant aspects of this way of working is that the fact of having an idea or a project in development is a crucial element for the participants to make a synthesis of all the knowledge they acquire, in that application process in real situations. Additionally, the combination of the face-to-face with the virtual is very favorable and motivating for the groups. Finally, I would say that the exchange between people from different countries enriches them a lot.

Being a teacher of this program and having trained so many CAHI Fellows leaders, what do you feel you have contributed to the groups?

Alcira: I think I make an effort so that they have a critical view of their own reality, that they try to delve into the situation that they know in the field where they are. There must be foundations, with statistical analysis, ethics, that have solid and comprehensive knowledge. It requires a lot of critical thinking, speed.

What is your vision for the future of CAHI?

Alcira: I believe that the CAHI Program must continue to grow and sustain itself, because we need many leaders with this level in Central America.