Fiocruz News Agency (AFN)
Fiocruz researchers participated, on Tuesday (Oct/18), in the 8th Global Forum of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP), an event that, for the first time, took place in South America. The 2022 edition of the Forum, which was supported by Rio de Janeiro’s Local Government, had as its theme Food to Feed the Climate Justice: urban food solutions for a fairer world. For three days, more than 500 delegates from 162 cities around the world participated in debates and the presentation of projects and results. The Foundation participated in the Public policies of food security and health: A vision of Fiocruz roundtable.
The Foundation's participation took place with the roundtable 'Public policies on food safety and health' (photo: Disclosure)
Fiocruz’s representatives at the event were Denise Oliveira e Silva, vice-director of Fiocruz Brasília and researcher, Richarlls Martins da Silva, executive coordinator of the Fiocruz Plan to Combat COVID-19 in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and researcher Leonardo Esteves de Freitas, member of the Observatory for Sustainable and Healthy Territories of Bocaina (OTSS). The mediation was carried out by researcher Valber da Silva Frutuoso, from the Institutional Relations Office of the Fiocruz Presidency.
Denise Oliveira spoke about the pandemic and the consequent worsening of inequalities and food insecurity, in the country and in the world, due to the health emergency, and the consequences for public health. She addressed the issue of healthy territories, spaces in which healthy living is made possible through community actions and public policies. The objective is to reach global, regional and local developments, in their multiple dimensions. “This is an important pillar for Fiocruz, based on a vision that is not purely biomedical, but based on the territory. We need a citizen science that can deal with the immense challenges we face to combat inequalities”.
Then, the executive coordinator of the Fiocruz Plan to Combat COVID-19 in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Richarlls Martins da Silva, commented on the Foundation’s work in Rio de Janeiro’s communities. He emphasized that the historical inequality observed in the favelas increased the impacts of health problems brought about by the pandemic. “If, ten years ago, the city of Rio de Janeiro had 22% of its population living in favelas, it is estimated that before the pandemic this number reached around 25% and is currently around 28%. In the case of the State of Rio de Janeiro, it is believed to have risen at the same pace. The impacts on unemployment, income and food insecurity are immense”.
Silva talked about Fiocruz's initiatives to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and fight hunger, such as the donation of food through the so-called solidarity kitchens. In one year, more than 45,000 meals were donated to around 100,000 people in 15 favela and periphery territories in the State of Rio de Janeiro. “Each meal distributed had an average cost of R$6.64, a value much lower than the average cost of a meal in the capital of Rio de Janeiro, which is R$47.09”.
He also commented on the donation made by the State Legislature of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj), which in 2020 donated R$20 million to Fiocruz, aiming at helping the institution and the communities in the fight against the pandemic. This amount was used in 104 projects developed in the communities themselves.
Researcher Leonardo Esteves de Freitas, from the Observatory for Sustainable and Healthy Territories of Bocaina (OTSS), addressed the Cuidar é Resistir (Caring is Resisting) campaign, which in 2022 benefited more than 7,000 families from 139 traditional caiçara, indigenous and quilombola territories with around 20,000 food baskets enriched with fish and agroecological products produced by the communities themselves. The campaign also delivered protective masks against COVID-19 and sought to strengthen local agroecology.
“It was an initiative built with the communities of the municipalities in the south of Rio de Janeiro and on the north coast of São Paulo. We supported residents who were in a high degree of vulnerability, organized in the Forum of Traditional Communities (FCT) of Angra dos Reis, Paraty and Ubatuba. These traditional communities suffer intense pressure of real estate speculation, the oil industry and luxury condominiums, with a strong presence of capital to the detriment of poor residents, many of whom are deterritorialized”.
Freitas said that the FCT pressed for the implementation and expansion of public policies. “Petrobras made a great contribution, donating around R$ 2.7 million, which benefited a total of 7,000 families”.
The researcher also mentioned the Ará project, a Fiocruz initiative launched in 2021 to promote agroecology and health among 38 traditional communities in three regions of the State of Rio de Janeiro and in Ubatuba, São Paulo. The goal is to encourage the incorporation of social technologies, the generation of employment and income, community organization and food and nutritional security for families. Ará has partners such as Embrapa Agrobiology, the Brazilian Articulation of Agroecology (ANA), the São Paulo State University (Unesp), the Fluminense Federal University (UFF) and the FCT.
Mediator Valber Frutuoso recalled the need to restore food ecosystems and to discuss the ethics of development. “Having sustainable food systems involves health, environment, transport and energy policies”. For Frutuoso, we should not forget the importance of preserving the environment and the science in the elaboration of these systems.
During the meeting, the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact was signed. The international agreement between mayors lists 37 actions, grouped into six categories (Governance, Sustainable Diets and Nutrition, Economic and Social Equity, Food Production, Food Supply and Distribution and Waste of Food), to be applied as food policies in the signatory cities. Specific indicators will also be defined for each recommended action, in order to monitor progress in implementing the Pact.