Panama-native Dr. Arturo Rebollón won a full-ride to next year’s World Federation of Public Health Associations conference (WFPHA) in April 2017 with his research project on cancer research and interactive maps.
The next WFPHA conference will be held in Melbourne, Australia, and Rebollón, for one, is ready to go.
“It’s the first time I’ve visited Australia, so you can imagine how excited I am,” he said. “I will meet world class experts, and learn about public health challenges and opportunities around the planet. Also, I will be representing the country with my research.”
The project, “How do you communicate high quality cancer data in developing countries? Let’s try interactive maps!” focuses on improving communication between satellite offices and the Cancer Registry.
“The Cancer Registry collects data from over 20 satellite offices, but lacks in communication skills,” Rebollón said. “We designed an interactive map that allows easy access to high quality cancer data using web-based interactive maps.”
Rebollón already has high hopes for his project and with his research. He plans to create a global health consultancy office to fill in gaps in implementation research.
“We are going to publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, use the results to get the International Association of Cancer Research certification, and promote cancer research in Panama,” he said.
Rebollón earned his medical degree from the University of Panama, in Panama City, in 2005, before coming to the USF College of Public Health. In 2011, he received his master in public health in epidemiology, and later began his doctorate in public health in global health, in 2013.
Until a life-changing experience in his third year of medical school, Rebollón had no intention of a public health path.
“I had the opportunity to work on an infectious diseases and nutrition project lead by McGill University and Florida State University. It was an eye opening for me— my love for public health was cemented,” he said. “We had the worst flooding in years, and I was forced into disaster management and public health education.”
It’s for the best—anything that forces you to a job that you describe as “your perfect fit” can’t be wrong, according to Rebollón.
Rebollón now works with geographical information systems (GIS) research and cancer, with the Ministry of Health in Panama.
“I am the director of the National Cancer Registry in Panama,” he said.
On a daily basis, Rebollón coordinates 26 separate sites that report cancer statistics and deaths in Panama, monitors data quality, performs advanced data analysis, and manages interactive data visualization. It sounds like a full day, but Rebollón doesn’t mind—it’s what attracted him to the position.
“Cancer is the number one cause of death in Panama, here I have the opportunity to improve the data management and availability for better policy making. This is a global health dream,” he said. “I have access to unlimited health data an institutional support to make a real difference.”
Rebollón hopes to become a global health leader on cancer prevention.
“The National Cancer Institute or International Association of Cancer Research are good places to start,” Rebollón said. “The sky is the limit!”