The origin of IECS dates back to the late 90’s, where a group of health professionals (Adolfo Rubinstein, Andrés Pichón-Riviere, Federico Augustovski, Ezequiel García Elorrio and Fernando Rubinstein) promoted the creation of a Master’s Degree in Clinical Effectiveness issued by the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) School of Medicine, following the model and inspiration of the Harvard’s post-graduate diploma. This Master’s degree, was initially and informally known as Clinical Effectiveness Program or “PEC” (from its Spanish abbreviation). Today, more than 700 professionals have obtained this diploma and it has contributed to introducing the concept that “there is a distance between the efficacy results in isolated studies, the actual effectiveness of interventions from a point of view relevant to the public health and the critical assessment of evidences when health decisions are to be made”.
This approach considered research as a means to modify reality. In addition to training Human Resources, IECS soon became a source of continued consultation for the Superintendence of Health Services, a state-owned agency responsible for regulating social security and prepaid medicine programs in Argentina, in order to assess the content of a Mandatory Medical Program, which includes the essential primary services that social security and insurance companies should cover for all their beneficiaries. Later on, similar agreements were made with other public, social security and private institutions in Argentina and other Latin American countries. The academic curriculum initiated a transition towards a new organization that would render genuine resources.
IECS signed its founding charter in July, 2002. Starting with a first office located at the UBA School of Public Health and with just two employees, in 2005, the IECS could move to an apartment and to add technical and administrative staff. By the time our current headquarters were inaugurated, at the Buenos Aires area of Palermo, in late 2010, our staff included approximately fifty people.
IECS has always been acknowledged for its designation as Collaborating Cochrane Center in Argentina in 2002 and member of the Hispanic-American Cochrane Network: as part of the largest global initiative focused on making, maintaining and publishing systematic reviews and meta-analyses of medical literature as a guide to clinical decision making.
In 2005, IECS climbed a huge step when it was accepted as part of the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) along with the main health technology assessment agencies in the world. Also in 2005, the current Department of Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety was created.
The scope of activities also diversified. In 2006, the Latin-American Center of Perinatology stemmed from the Pan-American Health Organization which would become the IECS’s Department of Mother and Child Health Research, founded by José Belizán and Fernando Althabe. This landmark deepened the institution’s commitment towards research on public health.
This process firmly consolidated during the following years and resulted in creating a network of new units, centers and departments. In 2009, an institute belonging to the United States NIH chose the IECS to coordinate the Center of Excellence in Cardiovascular Health for South America in the Southern Cone. This initiative would be the seed for the current Department of Research on Chronic Diseases.
In 2015, the Pediatric Palliative Care Unit was created: a multidisciplinary team made up by Palliative Care Doctors, Sociologists and Anthropologists. Two other units were also formally created: the Statistics, Data Management and Information System Unit, aimed at processing and transversally analyzing the volume of data resulting from the different research groups, and the Communication Unit, oriented to releasing scientific works. In 2016, the Center for Research on Epidemiology and Public Health was created: this was the first CONICET’s executing unit fully devoted to this field.
Time went by and brought along other acknowledgments. In 2013, the Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) designated the IECS’s Health Technology Assessments (HTA) Department as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center for health technology assessment.
In 2017, the Qualitative Research on Health Unit was created. Thus, the work team conducting qualitative studies for several departments became official.
In 2020, the Center for Implementation and Innovation in Health Policies was also incorporated in order to contribute with public debate and informed decision-making on health policies. Also in 2020, the Center for Excellence in Cancer Research was also created.
Along 19 years, the IECS has coordinated more than 500 research projects in at least 30 countries; it has published more than 600 articles in international scientific journals and has offered more than 50 training programs in the public health field, with 3,000 graduates. But, regardless of figures, the IECS could consolidate itself as a dynamic and multifaceted institution intended to generate and promote the best scientific evidence in order to contribute with global health improvement.
The history of the institution shows that each step was essential in building a sustainable organization imprinted with mysticism, growth, acknowledgement and projection. And that, as in its early beginnings, the IECS renews its commitment to produce and use more solid evidence in order to improve the health of individuals. At present, IECS is an organization that stands on the performance, commitment and dedication of all its members, who are convinced that creating knowledge to resolve our priority problems and achieving more effective, efficient and equitable are possible.