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Fiocruz discusses preparedness for epidemics and climate change at the 76th WHA


Pamela Lang (Fiocruz News Agency)


The pandemic left an important lesson for several countries that had to invest in structures or that already had the capacity to respond to health emergencies. But what was also observed were uneven responses and an asymmetry between countries in pathogen surveillance and access to vaccines and inputs. How to maintain the capacities generated by the pandemic and, at the same time, leverage fairer responses among countries for next emergencies?

Preparing for new emergencies was one of the central themes of the bilateral meetings (photo: Pamela Lang)

During the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO), which ended on Tuesday (5/30), the preparedness for new emergencies was one of the central themes of the bilateral meetings. As an institution that plays a strategic role in the response to epidemics and pandemics, Fiocruz was invited by the Ministry of Health to participate in some of these meetings. The international agenda was intense: in only four days, Fiocruz participated in meetings with ministers from eight countries (South Africa, Argentina, Chile, France, the Netherlands, India, Portugal and Singapore), besides a specific meeting with the ministers of Health of the BRIC countries, thus adding China and Russia to the list, and with the directors of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).

“The pandemic shed light into a problem, which was already present, of great asymmetry in the access to health products, especially vaccines. We have been discussing, with several agencies and governments, the issue of local production, or as I prefer to say, a proposal for a regional co-production of health products such as vaccines, drugs and equipment. Fiocruz, as a large producer of vaccines and laboratory diagnostic kits, will have a key role in the issue related to the security of supply of vaccines and the supply of inputs for the demands of the region in case of future emergencies”, explains the president of Fiocruz, Mario Moreira.

Fiocruz was invited by the Brazilian Ministry of Health to participate in part of these bilateral meetings (photo: Pamela Lang)

For the president, however, it is not only about supply, but also about qualifying the other countries in a structuring manner, so that there is an articulation for the generation of local and regional responses: “Fiocruz may contribute to the development of new vaccines that relate to the health framework of the region and, more importantly, is the role that we can have, aligned with the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), in the dissemination of technologies, training and capacity building of countries that wish to develop this industry in favor of their public health. The aim is to establish a fairer, more articulated and democratic industrial base in the regions so that mechanisms can be developed to accelerate production in future crises”, adds Mario Moreira.

These points were especially addressed in the meetings with the BRICS countries and with the ministers of Argentina and Chile, as to the strengthening of the Mercosur and the technical-scientific cooperation between these countries. Still on the subject regarding the preparedness for health emergencies, another highlight of Fiocruz's participation in the Assembly was the signing (5/22) of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the World Health Organization (WHO) for cooperation with the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, based in Berlin, Germany. 

One of the central points of the collaboration is the development of stronger surveillance data integration tools, taking advantage of Fiocruz's existing platforms and services. From the hub and the International Pathogen Surveillance Network, of which the Foundation is also a member of the leadership forum, Fiocruz will participate in global projects on the subject and will be able to act in cooperation with Latin America and Africa.

Climate and health: from the impact of climate change to the planetary health

In addition to bilateral meetings, Fiocruz also held parallel meetings with agencies and institutions to seek approaches and possibilities for new partnerships. Current issues relevant to the future of health were addressed from the perspective of health as part of a complex global system, such as digital health, climate change and impacts on human health, unified health and planetary health.

In a meeting with the Mérieux Foundation, the president of Fiocruz highlighted the possibility of a partnership for research (photo: Pamela Lang)

To this end, Fiocruz's delegation met with the Executive Director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), Luis Pizarro; the Director of the Center for Global Health of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Ilona Kickbusch; UNITAID Executive Director Philippe Duneton; Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Peter Sands; Chief Operating Officer of the Mérieux Foundation, Pascal Vincelot; Researcher of the World Health Organization (WHO) Department for the Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Pedro Albajar; Director of the Healthcare Without Harm global partnership, Josh Karliner; Executive Director of the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), Charles Gore; and Director John Reeder and Manager Garry Aslanyan of the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR).

“Fiocruz has been working from the perspective of unified health for some time, especially in the field of global health and health diplomacy. But we need to move forward with this cooperation agenda and bring, to the institution, the commitment to integrate planetary health and digital health into our final decision-making processes”, comments president Mario Moreira.

Fiocruz President, Mario Moreira met the Brazilian Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima, with the Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom (photo: Pamela Lang)

In a meeting with the Mérieux Foundation, the president also highlighted the possibility of a partnership for research in the state of Acre dedicated to the theme of climate and health, unified health and surveillance. “This is still an initial approach and we are in the project preparation stage to delimit our area of operation, but Acre is a strategic location in the region, as it is located in the Amazon biome and in the border region with Peru and Bolivia, and we need to advance research in climate change, unified health and genomic surveillance within this context”, explains Moreira.

On the last day of meetings in Geneva, the president of Fiocruz also participated in a meeting between the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima and the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom. “Throughout the World Health Assembly, Fiocruz positioned itself as a strategic institution, capable of supporting and responding to the demands of the Brazilian government. We accumulated technical-scientific and production capacity during the pandemic and now we have the role of making ourselves available not only to the Ministry of Health, but also to prepare ourselves to operate in the concrete sphere of the response policies that the MH deems more appropriate in new contexts”, concludes the president of Fiocruz.

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