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Fiocruz participates in the 6th Brazil Africa Forum

Júlia Lins (Fiocruz Bahia)

The 6th Brazil Africa Forum, held on November 22nd and 23rd, 2018 by the Brazil Africa Forum, in Salvador, Bahia chose the theme Youth Empowerment: Transformation to Achieve Sustainable Development. The event brought together Government representatives, companies, universities and potential investors to strengthen ties and promote new partnerships among Portuguese-speaking African countries.

Photo: Fiocruz Bahia

In the first day, Fiocruz President, Nísia Trindade de Lima, participated in the panel South-South and Triangular Cooperation for health and development moderated by the former Minister of Health and Adviser of Unitaid José Gomes Temporão. Jorge Chediek, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, and Maurício Cysne, Director of External Relations at Unitaid, also participated in the debate.

At the end of the debate, Nísia Trindade and João Bosco Monte, President of IBRAF, announced an initiative focused on the technical training of the high school young through the Joaquim Venâncio Polytechnic School of Health (EPSJV/Rio de Janeiro). Fiocruz will offer a Pathology Laboratory Equipment Maintenance Course for young Africans from the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) at its headquarters, in Rio de Janeiro.

In the second day of the Forum, Fiocruz organized a Side Event consisting of a round table with representatives and experts from different units of the Foundation to discuss international partnership strategies and programs.

The President of Fiocruz said that one of the most important aspects of the Forum is to be a place of collaboration between representatives from several African countries and Brazil with a broad agenda involving the development of health and education. “We are here with a specific focus on a health cooperation, especially with Portuguese-speaking African countries. This context allows us to better view the intersectoral agenda in order to have correlation and cooperation with these countries,” she said.

During the panel, Nísia thanked for the invitation to participate in the Forum, emphasized how important is the South-South collaboration to think about sustainable development and addressed the issue of inequalities. “Only a political project of resilience could highlight greater equality between countries. Recently, the 2030 Agenda placed development as a human right and the eradication of poverty as a condition for it, stressing the issue of extreme poverty,” she stated. 

She also highlighted Fiocruz agenda of cooperation discussed after a strategic planning with the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and collaborations with several African countries that speak other languages, as Benin and Nigeria. Nísia declared that the cooperation is based on a networked vision of these countries where public health institutions play a central role. 

José Temporão challenged participants asking about young empowerment as a basic pretext for sustainable development. “How can we think of South-South Triangulation to positively impact the process of young people empowerment?” asked the moderator. Nísia mentioned the tripod education, science and health as fundamental elements, and health as a civilization project with an agenda focused on the young. 

Training of Young Africans

According to the president of IBRAF, the idea of establishing a partnership with Fiocruz emerged when Nísia Trindade was attending the 5th Brazil Africa Forum last year. “Fiocruz has an absolutely broad agenda for its actions, acting in several places, including in the African context. We think some of the programs already developed by Fiocruz, especially in technical qualification, can be presented for young Africans,” she declared.

The equipment maintenance course is frequently administered by the Joaquim Venâncio Polytechnic School of Health (EPSJV/Fiocruz) and was already part of other cooperation processes. “We are very thankful for giving them the opportunity to receive education from an institution that may provide objective solutions to places in need for urgent help. I hope this partnership encourages other institutions to come to us and say they want to be partners,” finished João Bosco.

Photo: Fiocruz Bahia

During the Forum, Fiocruz and IBRAF representatives met to discuss preliminary consensuses for structuring the Pathology Laboratory Equipment Maintenance Course. The cooperation project between both institutions will be part of the courses offered in the Young African Training Program developed by the institute.

“The experience indicates that although the course has specific subjects, the reality of the other country must be taken into account as we are talking about a formative process,” explained Ingrid D’Avilla, coordinator of the EPSJV International Cooperation, which is focused on technical health training. For her, this type of course can develop the structuring of public health systems to expand the capacity of services and thus improve the population’s health needs.

International partnerships

Focusing on youth, the Side Event promoted dialogue on the possibility of new projects and initiatives in science, technology and innovation in health. “Youth is one of Fiocruz's priorities within the annual planning. We work with the inclusion of young people in society in the training process and health care, in addition to the work of territory,” said Valber Frutuoso, institutional relations adviser at Fiocruz and coordinator of the Side Event.

A collaborative project between Fiocruz, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University (Atlanta, USA), and CPLP African nations promotes the health of these countries by creating or strengthening institutions similar to Fiocruz aimed at public health. 

Augusto Paulo da Silva, from the Fiocruz Global Health Center, coordinates the Health Cooperation Strategic Plan of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. He told the Foundation contributes for these countries to also have institutions similar to Fiocruz. “We start this exercise of creating or strengthening these institutions to promote a scientific and technological health development similar to what we have at Fiocruz. Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, for example, have a new public health institute with its own campus and laboratory.” 

Also according to Augusto Paulo, Fiocruz started these activities before the Ebola outbreak in a way that fomented the preparation of these nations to fight this epidemic. “To fight a public event, there must be strengthened public health institutes. Vertical projects are not enough to cope with such matters,” he ponders. Paulo Augusto indicates that, in the future, Fiocruz will develop CDC Africa along with the African Union, which wants to use the Brazilian experience of creating institutions in the local molds, instead of importing a foreign model.

The director of the National Institute of Infectology Evandro Chagas (INI/Fiocruz), Valdilea Gonçalves, presented the advances of researches in relation to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, better known as PrEP. It is a major program that has financed the use of PrEP as an intervention in key populations at high risk of contracting HIV, a work already done in Mexico and Peru. “We are interested in increasing our South-South collaboration. We already started the discussions with Mozambique and we are open to discuss plans and collaborations with other African countries,” she stated.

Food and nutrition safety is another experience being taken to the other countries. Fabiana Damásio, director of Fiocruz Brasília, addressed the experience last year in Mozambique. Two courses on food safety and governance were promoted for health managers and technicians. 

This course generated public demand and specialization in this field in order to reduce malnutrition in these nations. “Recently, we have developed a proposal for the local plan to reduce malnutrition in these countries, in the health ministries of these nations, to develop activities next year. We try to add experiences of Brazil, that managed to leave the map of hunger in 2014,” she said. 

Pedro Burger, international relations adviser at Fiocruz, believes this type of activity reinforces health systems by providing experiences of the Unified Health System (SUS) on capacity of surveillance and fight against economic inequality. “Participating in this type of event has two objectives: to become known and to draw the attention of participants to the fact that we are prepared for international cooperation,” he said.

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