Ana Paula Blower and Cristina Azevedo (Fiocruz News Agency)
New head of the Special Advisory on International Affairs (Aisa) of the Ministry of Health, the ambassador Alexandre Ghisleni was at Fiocruz for the first time this Tuesday (5/16). In a meeting with the Foundation's president, Mario Moreira, the ambassador discussed ways to increase the synergy with Fiocruz and articulate international cooperation strategies. On a full-day visit, Alexandre Ghisleni also met with researchers from the Center for International Relations in Health (Cris/Fiocruz) and participated in a meeting of the Technical Chamber for International Cooperation (CTCI) to learn more about the Foundation and how it can more widely contribute to Aisa.
Ambassador Ghisleni (at right) met Mario Moreira, Luis Augusto Galvão and Paulo Buss at the Moorish Castle (photo:Peter Illiciev)
During the meeting at the Moorish Castle (RJ), Mario Moreira highlighted Fiocruz's experience in the field of international cooperation and health diplomacy, noting that the Foundation has become a point of reference in the articulation of several networks, in structuring and science and technology collaborations. He also recalled the choice of the Foundation by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the mRNA vaccine hub in Latin America. “With the vaccine factory under construction, we will increase by six times our production capacity. Butantan is also expanding. Brazil is going to be one of the biggest vaccine producers”, said Moreira. “And Fiocruz, as the Ministry of Health's science and technology base, is at your disposal”.
The ambassador, who took office three months ago, explained that he has been thinking about ways to increase this synergy. He pointed out that Brazil is entering a moment of great external projection, assuming the presidency of Mercosur in the second semester, that of the G20 in seven months, of the Brics in 2025, in addition to a Brazilian, Jarbas Barbosa, as the current Director of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). This situation may favor the sharing of successful Brazilian experiences in the field of health. Paulo Buss, Cris/Fiocruz coordinator – who, together with the vice-coordinator, Pedro Burger, and senior advisor Luis Augusto Galvão, participated in the meeting – recalled that Brazil has much to share, such as the experiences of the Unified Health System (SUS) and the Popular Pharmacy. The ambassador added: “It is clear that we cannot ignore the importance of this synergy. We will seek ways to optimize it”.
At the Cris/Fiocruz headquarters, Ghisleni continued the meeting with Buss, Burger and Galvão, as well as Francisco Campos, a specialist in Science, Technology, Innovation and Production at Fiocruz and senior advisor at the Open University of SUS (UNA-SUS), Ilka Vilardo, Cris/Fiocruz advisor for Europe, and Erica Kastrup, co-editor of Cris Notebooks on Global Health (Cadernos Cris Saúde Global). Buss put Cris/Fiocruz at Aisa's disposal, either with the reports produced fortnightly by the Center's Observatory and which are part of the Cris Journals on Global Health, or with work on specific issues. Among the results of the meeting is the possibility of holding workshops and forming working groups to deepen the discussion in certain areas.
In the afternoon, the ambassador participated in the meeting of the Technical Chamber for International Cooperation, in the Auditorium of the Center for Health History and Documentation (CDHS) of the Oswaldo Cruz House (COC/Fiocruz), with representatives of all units and vice-presidencies of Fiocruz. On the occasion, the Cris/Fiocruz coordinator, Paulo Buss, made a presentation of the Center, detailing its fronts of activity, strategic vision and management. Then, the structuring cooperation networks of which Fiocruz is part and leads were presented, the networks of Health Institutes, Schools of Public Health, Technical Education in Health, Human Milk Bank (BLH) and UNA-SUS.
At that moment, the ambassador raised the possibility of expanding the offer of courses at UNA-SUS and of other activities beyond Portuguese, including French and English, to reach other countries in Africa besides Portuguese-speaking ones. He returned to the topic in his presentation, at the end of the meeting, pointing out that, when considering the cooperation with fellow and Portuguese-speaking countries, the potential for cooperation with Africa is limited. “We are reviewing our position in the sense that we can do more and that we need to use these possibilities to strengthen the Brazilian national health system and, thereby, those of the Global South and the international community as a whole”. For him, Fiocruz's work is “a key contribution for this to become true, in the construction of an international health order”. And he added that all the experience accumulated by the Foundation can be used with “greater protagonism”.
Ghisleni highlighted the importance of the current moment for global health, a “confluence of factors”, calling attention to the moment of recovery that the country is experiencing, mentioning, for example, the G-20 meeting in 2024, in Rio de Janeiro, and the return of Unasur. “It is an opportunity to boost the addressing of issues that matter to us, and that undergoes several layers, such as reform of the global health architecture, health financing, reconfiguration of international value chains. Other challenges are the treatment of neglected diseases, training the health workforce, advancing the contribution that health can make to climate change”.
About the priorities of the new health management, he said that the minister lists, mainly, preparation for upcoming pandemics, universal health coverage, digital health and the relationship between health and climate change. Highlighting “how to encourage the construction of an industrial health complex” as a major priority and challenge, he stressed that he sees no opposition between the search for self-supply capacity and cooperation. “Brazil needs to have a provider capacity to supply the Brazilian market, not with the pretension to supply it 100%, but also to contribute to the supply of neighboring and African countries. These things are not mutually exclusive”.
In his presentation, the ambassador commented on how the minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima, sees and values the issue of global health and health diplomacy, and that this is a moment of consolidation of a stable international health order guided by the principles of equity and solidarity. He also pointed out that it is now necessary to assess how to resize and advance the theme, emphasizing the importance of the Foundation: “The contribution that Fiocruz has given is key to cooperation”.
Afterward, he highlighted the importance of cooperation at the border, explaining that it is not possible to solve the Yanomami crisis, for example, without collaboration with neighboring countries. In this sense, he also stressed the importance of having a regional production arrangement that allows the supply of strategic health inputs. “That is why we encourage partners to develop their industries, so that we can help each other”. The statement corroborates another aspect of cooperation, the political bias of the issue. “How to move from a posture of competition to one of cooperation at the international level”, he pointed out.
During his visit, the ambassador also visited the Moorish Castle. In the Rare Works Library, he was able to see a copy of Annalen der Physik, from 1905, which contains four articles by Albert Einstein, one of them autographed by the physicist during his visit to Fiocruz on May 8, 1925.