Oswaldo Cruz Foundation an institution in the service of life

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Fiocruz celebrates its 119 years and opens path to the 120th anniversary


Julia Dias (AFN)


The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) has celebrated its 119-year history by thinking about the future. In the last week of May (from the 27th to the 31st) a series of events have marked the date. On the last day of celebration, the Foundation’s 120-year Honor Commission, a group of health care specialists which is going to work on the definition of the institution’s agenda for its next anniversary, took up office during the ceremony. Additionally, those approved in Fiocruz’s last public examination took up office, which, according to the president of the Foundation, Nísia Trindade Lima, “represented a watershed moment between tradition and the future of the institution”.

Photo: Peter Ilicciev


The president highlighted some moments from the history of Fiocruz, such as the role of the Foundation during the country’s re-democratization process, pointing out that the institution represents “daring, dreams and commitment”. Before swearing in the members of the Honor Commission, Nísia stated: “We seek health as a utopia for a better world, Fiocruz has a history, is present now and, together with everyone else, wants to build the future”. 

The Secretary of Science, Technology and Strategic Inputs of the Ministry of Health, Denizar Vianna, who appeared at the event representing the Minister of Health, Henrique Mandetta, member of the Commission, stressed that the institution plays the important role of promoting access of science and technology to the public. “Recently we have had drug supply problems and we were promptly served by Fiocruz, which provides this essential support to the Ministry”, exemplified the secretary.

Another member of the Foundation’s 120-year Honor Commission, the Governor of Pernambuco, Paulo Câmara, also mentioned a recent work of Fiocruz when speaking about its importance. “The institution played a vital role with its research on microcephaly in Pernambuco, which is one of the states most affected by the Zika epidemic".

The governor concluded by making a defense of scientific research: “It is necessary to see beyond the short-term, which is so important in healthcare, recognizing that the studies provide support for taking actions and doing work in the future, and it is this that is going to assure that Fiocruz, which has already saved many lives, will continue to do so”, he emphasized. 

Paulo Buss, coordinator of the Center for International Relations in Health of Fiocruz, spoke on behalf of the ex-presidents of the Foundation who are a part of the Commission. “Each one of us has dedicated much time, intellectual resources and enthusiasm so that the institution, which today has the vitality of a mature adult, may continue its trajectory of such importance in the scientific community”, said Buss. Another ex-president, the researcher emeritus, Akira Homma, said that the challenge now is in the hands of those who are arriving, when referring to the new successful candidates: “We have fulfilled the initial mission of Oswaldo Cruz, with the development of sera and vaccines, and today we can say that all Brazilians have a little of Fiocruz inside them”.

The president of the Brazilian Association of Collective Health (Abrasco), Gulnar Azevedo, referred to Fiocruz’s symbol: “As long as this Castle, which has inspired generations, like mine, continues with its doors open to the community, the Foundation will continue to be a symbol of hope”, she said. The representative of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO-OMS), Socorro Gross, stated that she felt honored to become a part of the Commission: “I come from a small and poor country, Costa Rica, and I feel very happy to be able to share this experience of thinking about Fiocruz’s future with colleagues from various other institutions, and, particularly, with the first female president of the Foundation”.

One of the most touching moments of the ceremony was the donation to Fiocruz of a watch that belonged to Elisa, one of the daughters of the institution’s patron. The delivery was performed by Lilian Oswaldo Cruz, widow of Eduardo Oswaldo Cruz, grandson of Oswaldo Cruz. “For many years we lived abroad. When we returned to Brazil, Eduardo began to separate the things belonging to the family that he wanted to donate to Manguinhos. Eduardo died almost five years ago, and I don’t know why the watch laid forgotten inside a safe. Now that I have found it, I think it had to return home. That’s why I came here to deliver it”, declared Lilian.

Besides Oswaldo Cruz’s watch, with the brand-name Dent, the same firm of watchmakers that was responsible for the construction of Big Ben, a wooden support for the object was also donated to Fiocruz. The material will be kept in the collection of the Casa de Oswaldo Cruz (COC), an institute of Fiocruz responsible for the custody and preservation of the centennial institution.

Fiocruz’s 120-year Honor Commission

Akira Homma, ex-president of Fiocruz; Camilo Santana, Governor of the State of Ceará; Carlos Morel, ex-president of Fiocruz; Colonel Marcos Rocha, Governor of the State of Rondônia; Eduardo Leite, Governor of Rio Grande do Sul; Elizabeth Campos Silva, Coordinator of the NGO Rede CCAP Manguinhos; Eloi Garcia, ex-president of Fiocruz; Fernando Pigatto, president of the National Health Council; Gulnar Azevedo, president of Abrasco; Henrique Mandetta, Minister of Health; Ibaneis Rocha, Governor of the Federal District; Ildeu Moreira, president of SBPC; João Dória, Governor of São Paulo; Jorge Alberto Costa e Silva, president of the National Academy of Medicine; Luiz Davidovich, president of the Brazilian Academy of Science; Marco Lucchesi, president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters; Paulo Buss, ex-president of Fiocruz; Paulo Câmara, Governor of the State of Pernambuco; Paulo Gadelha, ex-president of Fiocruz; Ratinho Júnior, Governor of the State of Paraná; Reinaldo Azambuja, Governor of the State of Mato Grosso do Sul; Romeu Zema, Governor of the State of Minas Gerais; Rui Costa, Governor of the State of Bahia; Sinval Pinto Brandão Filho, president of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine and director of Fiocruz Pernambuco; Socorro Gross, Representatives of Opas/OMS in Brazil; Wellington Dias, Governor of the State of Piauí; Wilson Lima, Governor of the State of Amazonas; Wilson Witzel, Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro.

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