Isabela Schincariol (Fiocruz Virtual Campus)
With 42 new students enrolled, Fiocruz and Mozambique launch a large institutional consortium called the Educational Program in Health Systems (SIS-Saúde Brazil/Mozambique). The event took place in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, and was attended, physically and remotely, by authorities and representatives from both countries. At the opening of the meeting, the president of Fiocruz, Mario Moreira, stated that this relationship is based on the collective construction of knowledge and founded on the "principles of solidarity and respectful cooperation between countries". The ceremony was broadcast live on the VideoSaúde Distribuidora channel on YouTube and is available in portuguese.
The inaugural class of SIS-Saúde was held on 10/9 – aimed at the 42 masters and doctors approved in the offer –, given by the vice-president of Education, Information and Communication at Fiocruz, Cristiani Vieira Machado, with the theme Health System of the Global South: challenges and perspectives. The presentation can also be watched on the National Institute of Health (INS, the acronym in Portuguese) of Mozambique profile on Facebook.
The event, which took place in a hybrid format in both countries, also included, in addition to Mario Moreira, the presence of the secretary of Work Management and Health Education of the Ministry of Health, Isabela Cardoso Pinto; the vice-president of Education, Information and Communication, Cristiani Vieira Machado; the director general of the National Institute (INS) of Health of Mozambique, Eduardo Samo Gudo; the national director of Health Training and Communication of the INS, Rufino Gujamo; the director of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the Lúrio University, Alarquia Saíde; the president of the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes), Mercedes Bustamante; and the director of Cooperation at the Brazilian Embassy, Natasha Pinheiro Agostina.
SIS-Saúde includes the postgraduate programs in Public Health (PPGSP), Public Health and Environment (PPGSPMA) and Public Health Epidemiology (PPGEPI) linked to the Sergio Arouca National School of Public Health (Ensp/Fiocruz); in Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health (PPGSMCA) of the National Institute of Women, Children and Adolescents Health Fernandes Figueira (IFF/Fiocruz); in Public Health (PPGSP) of the Aggeu Magalhães Institute (IAM/Fiocruz Pernambuco); and in Public Health (PPGSC) of the René Rachou Institute (IRR/Fiocruz Minas).
Isabela Cardoso Pinto, remotely representing the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima, began the presentations highlighting the Ministry's work in resuming the international agenda, commitments and bilateral agreements. She recalled the country's trajectory with Mozambique and noted that the “current spirit is to build bridges to strengthen the debate on health security from an international perspective”. Regarding the launch of the new program, Isabela said that the initiative strengthens the management of health systems and that the commitment of the Ministry of Health is to expand these exchange actions to facilitate the debate on health across borders.
Rufino Gujamo presented the program detailing its structure, objectives and particularities of the selection process. He spoke about other INS training initiatives in collaboration with different institutions, especially Fiocruz. “Since 2008 we have had partnerships with the Foundation and today's launch shows how consolidated our collaboration is”, he noted, pointing out that this is an innovative program, as it takes place in a hybrid format. There are 42 students, 21 in each modality, who will be distributed across the country, in different locations – Maputo, Nampula, Inhambane, Niassa, Sofala, Zambésia, Tete, Gaza, Cabo Delgado – where they will be able to access the internet and follow the classes from the Moodle Virtual Learning Environment of the Fiocruz Virtual Campus, which is responsible for the development and support for teachers.
The director of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Lúrio University (Unilúrio), Alarquia Saíde, highlighted that the institution has always faced challenges and transformed them into opportunities. “We were the first public university based outside the country's capital, in Nampula, in addition to dealing with the deficit of qualified human resources and infrastructure”. For the qualified composition of their teaching staff, they turned to international partners, from Europe, Asia and Latin America, bringing highly qualified and experienced professionals so that the training of Unilúrio students had the necessary rigor.
Gradually, and in a very strategic way, he said, “Unilúrio began incorporating national teachers, from 2014, into its staff. The international partnership proved to be extremely important and this new program will further qualify our staff, whose priority lies in public health and the health of populations”.
Brazil and Mozambique: horizontal, supportive and persistent cooperation
In an emotional speech, the vice president of Education of Fiocruz, Cristiani Vieira Machado, who is also the coordinator of SIS-Saúde, welcomed the students and highlighted the collective component of this initiative. “It is an honor to have you with us. The opening of this class is the result of a highly collective work and a partnership that began a long time ago between us. It is part of a broader South-South cooperation agenda, a priority for the Brazilian government, which has stated its commitment to strengthening ties between Brazil and Portuguese-speaking African countries. This initiative is also consistent with the strategic cooperation plan of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), drawn up for 2023-2027, whereby the strengthening of public health systems is a priority. We have used structuring South-South cooperation in health to designate this movement of cooperation between our countries in a horizontal, supportive and persistent way, with a medium and long-term vision, mutual commitments and reciprocal learning. This is the type of cooperation that aims to consolidate public institutions and local capabilities through the expansion of opportunities, exchange of knowledge and transfer of technologies with respect”.
In line with Cristiani's narrative, the president of Fiocruz, Mario Moreira, also spoke about the successful trajectory between the countries, pointing out that this is a structuring cooperation, based on the principles of solidarity, respectful cooperation between countries, and strategy for our international reintegration. The launch, according to him, materializes this new moment that our country is experiencing.
Moreira believes that “health systems are organized around people, not only people capable of formulating public policies, but who are also prepared to structure the system itself. Thus, the importance of this new program is unequivocal and fundamental so that the Mozambican health system can, in fact, offer the population a quality service. We are in this project with the certainty that we will contribute to teaching, but that we will also learn a lot from the experience of Mozambique”, he said, commenting that this relationship is based on the collective construction of knowledge and, above all, experiences. “This is how Brazil has reinserted itself into international scenarios and behaved in the face of the challenges of socio-economic development in the global South”.
Cooperation in education for the formation of knowledge networks
The president of Capes, Mercedes Bustamante, argued that cooperation through education and science between countries in the Global South is an extremely relevant matter. “The training of masters and doctors is necessary in the most diverse areas of knowledge and essential for the qualification of national health systems. It should also be noted that the new program will also form networks of researchers between institutions in Mozambique, especially the INS and the Lúrio University Such networks are a very efficient way of expanding and consolidating stricto sensu postgraduate courses. Furthermore, South-South internationalization today deserves our support and has been resumed by the Federal Government with all its strength, as these agreements strengthen the development of Nations”.
Development of human and institutional capabilities
“Health and education are essential for the development of a country, and what the governments of Brazil and Mozambique have in common is the commitment to forming human capital that is capable of finding solutions for this development”, assured the director of Cooperation at the Brazilian Embassy, Natasha Agostini, in her presentation. She recalled that the country has been engaged for years in promoting South-South cooperation, in which developing countries share solutions found based on the principles of horizontality, neutrality and mutual benefits.
“This cooperation focuses on developing human and institutional capabilities. The launch of another stage of the program is a perfect example of the success of the South-South cooperation. It is the partnership to improve Mozambican health systems, but it is also about developing highly relevant research for the health systems of both countries. We know that there is an important personal investment from those who enter the postgraduate courses. So, I wish everyone to persevere in their studies, as we are sure that the personal growth you will experience will contribute many times over to the development of our societies and to the strengthening of the health systems of our countries”, she aspired.
“With all this enthusiasm, this program has no other option but to succeed,” said the INS director general, Eduardo Samo Gudo, filled with hope. He pointed out that there is a long way to go to improve the health and well-being of the population anywhere in the world, but it is safe! And it is in this context that the INS, Fiocruz and Unilúrio are jointly committed. “Through this program, we seek to contribute to the formation of a critical mass in Mozambique with a transformative role and which promotes the strengthening of the national health system. Moreover, our expectation is that this training will contribute to providing future graduates with the skills to identify creative and innovative solutions to improve the health and well-being of Mozambicans”.
According to him, the new and emerging public health challenges posed by globalization, climate change and rapid population growth demand creative, innovative and efficient approaches in order to tackle them. “Extreme weather events and other public health emergencies are unequivocal examples of the impacts of these transformations and they require health professionals equipped with contemporary technical-scientific knowledge capable of identifying solutions adjusted to our local context. Therefore, this program presents itself as a platform for training health professionals to face modern public health challenges and generating new knowledge about the main health problems and challenges”, he said.
Gudo also commented that he has high expectations for this training, as he was a doctoral student at Fiocruz, at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, assuring new students that they are entering one of the best health schools in the world: “This is a unique opportunity to strengthen our national health system, and the high adherence of health professionals shows us that we are on the right path. In fact, this collaboration is a good example of the transformative potential of the south-south cooperation. This is not just a program to train people, it goes much further. It will connect groups, scientists between two countries and cultures. This training is just the seed, which will later generate enriching fruits. We are certain that the success of this program will open a window of opportunities for the development and implementation of other courses, now tripartite: Fiocruz, INS and Unilúrio”.
SIS-Saúde's central objective is to strengthen the health systems of the region. To this end, it will train Mozambican masters and doctors, who will work in the national health system, in health training and research, contributing to the qualification of personnel in the field of public and collective health, as well as to the planning, management and assessment of health systems.