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President Lula announces representation of Fiocruz in Ethiopia


Camila De’Carli and Cristina Azevedo (Fiocruz News Agency)


During the meeting of the 37th Summit of the African Union (AU), president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced, last Saturday (17/2), the expansion of health cooperation with the continent, with the creation of a representation of Fiocruz in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. On the trip around the country, the president of the Foundation, Mario Moreira, accompanied the Brazilian delegation, representing Minister Nísia Trindade Lima, during the meeting of Health Ministers from the African continent.

A pedido da ministra da Saúde  Nísia Trindade Lima, Mario Moreira participou da reunião com os ministros de Saúde do continente, coordenada pelo CDC África (foto: Divulgação)

The opening of the new Fiocruz representation – the second in Africa – comes from the successful experience in Mozambique, where the Foundation has been acting in a structuring way to strengthen the local public health system. In his speech, president Lula defended cooperation aimed at health equity. He highlighted the importance of collaboration with the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Africa).

“I also want to extend our partnership to the health sector. We will work with the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention to tackle neglected tropical diseases. We will aim to expand access to medicines, avoiding a repeat of the vaccine ‘apartheid’ that we saw in COVID-19 (pandemic),” said Lula. “To carry out all these initiatives, we will create an outpost of cooperation with the African Union in sectors such as agricultural research, health, education, environment and science and technology. Our diplomatic representation in Addis Ababa will soon have employees from government bodies such as the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, Embrapa and Fiocruz, our research and development bodies in agriculture and health,” he added.

At the request of minister Nísia, Mario Moreira participated in the meeting with the continent's Health ministers, coordinated by CDC Africa. The strong point of the meeting was the proposal for the institution's presence on the African continent, in conjunction with the objectives of the Brazilian Ministry of Health and CDC Africa.

“We are very proud of the trust that the Brazilian government has placed in Fiocruz so that we can be a fundamental point of cooperation with the African continent in the field of health. The opening of our representation in Addis Ababa, where the headquarters of the African Union are located, reinforces and deepens Brazil's structuring cooperation with Africa”, said Mario Moreira.

At the meeting of AU health ministers, Fiocruz was presented as a great partner for the continent. The general director of CDC Africa, Jean Kaseya, highlighted the need to strengthen the health systems of countries on the continent, mainly through increasing local production and training professional staff for public health systems. Kaseya noted that this expansion of production must range from the development and conduct of clinical studies, to regulatory aspects and production itself. He was also interested in transferring technology from Brazil.

The director general of CDC Africa considered the workforce the most fragile point on the continent. Kaseya said he would like to benefit from Fiocruz's capacity for personal training, with postgraduate programs in public health and biological sciences, both by receiving African students at the Foundation and by organizing programs in Africa – initiatives that have been successful in Mozambique.

The expected outcome of the trip is the consolidation of the collaboration project through a document establishing the commitments to be signed at the World Health Assembly in May this year, in Geneva. Moreira also had a bilateral meeting with Kaseya.

Cooperation with Mozambique

The African Union is made up of 55 countries and joined the G20 with the support of Brazil. Together these nations have 1 billion and 500 million inhabitants and face many challenges similar to Brazil.

Fiocruz has had an office in Mozambique since 2008, one of the Foundation's most successful examples of structuring cooperation on the continent. And one of the most active areas of cooperation has been in education, with courses from technical to postgraduate levels for health professionals. The Postgraduate Program in Health Sciences alone, the result of cooperation between Fiocruz and the Mozambican National Institute of Health (INS), has already trained more than 60 masters. Last year, the Health Systems Educational Program (SIS-Saúde Brazil/Mozambique) was launched to strengthen health systems in the region. The program is a large institutional consortium of six different postgraduate programs at the Foundation in partnership with INS and Universidade Lúrio, both in Mozambique. The most recent project also foresees the creation of a national school of public health in the country.

Another successful initiative was cooperation for the implementation of human milk banks. This initiative began with Fiocruz initially helping to form a Brazilian network in the 1980s and later moving on to the formation of regional networks, such as the one involving the countries of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP). Since 2011, based on the cooperation of Fiocruz and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), two human milk banks have been implemented in Cape Verde, one in Mozambique and one in Angola, benefiting thousands of babies and helping to combat child mortality. 

This experience should grow this year, with the increase in the number of banks in the countries and a conference in May. There are projects for the possible opening of a new one in Cape Verde and three new ones in Mozambique. Collaboration with the African Union will now help to establish this cooperation beyond Portuguese-speaking countries.

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