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The Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama

The first five papers in this issue of the Food and Nutrition Bulletin were presented at a symposium on the Role of Food Science and Technology in Solving Food and Nutrition Problems, held on the occasion of the forty-third anniversary of the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP).

The Institute was inaugurated in Guatemala in September 1949 in a small adobe building in the Botanical Garden of the National University. Only Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras were members, each paying US$8,500 per year, and the total budget for the first year was US$40,500, including the salary of the Director and all travel. Four years later all six countries of Central America and Panama were members, INCAP had moved to a fine new building, and the total budget was approaching a million dollars.

It grew rapidly in professional staff, in laboratory and field research output, training capacity, and applied nutrition activities in the member countries. Its library became and remains the finest for nutrition research in Latin America and one of the best in the world. By the time of its silver anniversary in 1974, the scientific publication list at the end of its first 24 years totalled 1,647, including 695 in English, most of them in peer-reviewed journals. Most outstanding in the record of these years were the several thousand from all over Latin America, and many other parts of the world, who were trained at INCAP.

INCAP continued to flourish despite the worsening political situation in Guatemala, but in 1980 tragedy struck when both the Director and the Chief of Administration were kidnapped by terrorists for several months. Although fortunate to be released alive, they never returned to INCAP. As a result, the 1980s were difficult years for INCAP and it lost some of its best professionals. Since the appointment of the fifth director, Dr. Hernán Delgado, INCAP has expanded its services to member countries, added Belize and the Dominican Republic to its participating countries, and begun rebuilding its scientific base. It remains a Mecca for professionals in all aspects of clinical and applied nutrition and related disciplines including social sciences and agricultural and food technology.

INCAP's current programme includes strengthening its managerial and technological-scientific capacity to respond to the needs of its member countries, emphasis on the control of specific nutritional deficiencies, the prevention and management of nutrition-related chronic diseases, food-based socioeconomic studies, food and nutrition education, promotion and support of maternal and child health services, food analysis and food quality control. Currently, it has the highest number of research projects and of training and research workshops in its history.

The Bulletin is very pleased to recognize the continuing regional and global impact of INCAP's contributions towards overcoming hunger and malnutrition and to publish these anniversary symposium papers.

—Nevin S. Scrimshaw

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