Cristina Azevedo (Fiocruz News Agency)
A graduate of the Sergio Arouca National School of Public Health (Ensp/Fiocruz), the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Jarbas Barbosa returned this Thursday (7/13) to the Foundation to pay homage to Fiocruz. The visit also had the signing of two agreements: one to support studies for the development of the mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, and the other for technical cooperation in the field of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine (MTCI).
Fiocruz receives PAHO for homage and signing of agreements (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
Received by Fiocruz's vice-president of Production and Innovation in Health, Marco Krieger, Jarbas Barbosa arrived accompanied by the PAHO and World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Brazil, Socorro Gross; the director of the Pan-American Center for Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Veterinary Public Health, Ottorino Cosivi; the director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME), João Paulo Souza; the coordinator of Communicable Diseases of the PAHO office in Brazil, Miguel Aragon; the coordinator of Surveillance, Preparedness and Response to Emergencies and Disasters of the PAHO office in Brazil, Alexander Rosewell; and the consultant for Surveillance, Preparedness and Response to Emergencies and Disasters of the PAHO office in Brazil, Rodrigo Said.
The group visited the plant of the Institute of Technology on Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz) for the mRNA vaccine, the Hospital Center for the COVID-19 pandemic, of the Evandro Chagas National Infectiology Institute (INI/Fiocruz), the COVID-19 Diagnosis Support Unit (Unadig) and the Center for Research, Innovation and Surveillance in COVID-19 and Health Emergencies - Luiz Fernando Ferreira Pavilion - described by Barbosa as “legacies” from the fight against the disease.
The group visited the plant of the Institute of Technology on Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz) for the mRNA vaccine (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
The highlight of the visit was the ceremony in the conference hall of the Center for Health History and Documentation (CDHS, in the Portuguese acronym), on the Manguinhos Campus (RJ), where the agreements were signed. Jarbas Barbosa highlighted PAHO's effort to have a hub for the mRNA vaccine installed in the Americas – developed by Fiocruz and the Argentine company Sinergium Biotech – and not only in Africa. “It was necessary for Latin America to join this process. This benefits not only one country, but the entire region,” he said.
The agreement, presented by the director of Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz, Mauricio Zuma, aims to support the necessary studies for the development of the vaccine to be carried out. “PAHO has been essential in the whole process”, said Zuma. “Right now, we are receiving support in production and encapsulation for toxicology studies. These studies are part of the preclinical studies”.
Ceremony took place in the conference hall of the Center for Documentation and History of Health (CDHS), on the Manguinhos campus (RJ) (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
The other agreement establishes technical cooperation, for five years, in research activities, seminars and publications on Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine and Practices in Health (MTCI/Pics) in support of public policies in the Americas. Fiocruz will participate, through the National Observatory of Traditional, Integrative and Complementary Knowledge and Practices in Health (ObservaPICS), linked to the Vice-Presidency of Environment, Care and Health Promotion (VPAAPS/Fiocruz) and with the executive secretariat at Fiocruz Pernambuco.
ObservaPICS gathers researchers and technical collaborators from several institutions, including Bireme, the Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Association of Collective Health (Abrasco). It is a PAHO partner in the project that maps policies in the Americas aimed at MTCIs, such as phytotherapy. Created in 2018, ObservaPICS articulates and shares technical and scientific production in the area, disseminating evidence and experiences, and bringing traditional communities closer to researchers.
Representing president Mario Moreira, who could not attend, Krieger highlighted that, with more than 120 years, Fiocruz and PAHO “belong to the same generation, facing the same problems” and coming out stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is a very important day because these two agreements demonstrate that our relationship is becoming deeper”, he said.
The group also visited the Hospital Center for the Covid-19 Pandemic (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
This was Barbosa's first visit to the Foundation after taking office in February this year. He highlighted that the pandemic has brought a different perspective to the health area and that it is time to implement the lessons learned and support countries in the recovery. “The queues in health, which were long, are now huge”, adding that the pandemic has delayed the diagnosis of serious illnesses. Barbosa also highlighted inequalities in the region, where high- and middle-income countries coexist with nations in extreme poverty. And that a key lesson is the need to increase local production of health products in all fields. “A country may not be able to produce vaccines, but it can produce glasses, masks”, he pointed out.
Socorro Gross, in turn, highlighted the importance of the partnership with Fiocruz and its participation in the creation of PAHO. She also recalled the training carried out at the Foundation for technicians from other countries, even before Brazil had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.
PAHO representative in Brazil, Socorro Gross handed Krieger a plaque in honor of Fiocruz (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
At the CDHS, the PAHO representative in Brazil handed Krieger a plaque as a homage to Fiocruz. Last year, the organization celebrated 120 years and paid homage to some partner institutions throughout its history. “PAHO recognizes the collaboration of Fiocruz as a true heritage of humanity, an institution that works for the right to health, a world reference in research, in the training of human resources, always acting with solidarity to produce science in favor of life and within a social perspective that reaches the most vulnerable populations”, says the plaque. Former presidents of the Foundation, Carlos Morel, Paulo Gadelha, Paulo Buss and Akira Homma, as well as directors of institutes and members of the Decision-Making Body, participated in the photo of the delivery of the plaque.