Ricardo Valverde (Fiocruz News Agency)
The new president of Fiocruz, Mario Moreira, took office on 5/12, in a ceremony marked by emotion and emphasis on the Foundation's democratic process, which crowned the election, by the institution's employees, of yet another director directly elected. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima, three former ministers (José Gomes Temporão, Arthur Chioro and Agenor Álvares) and the elected dean of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Roberto Medronho. Representatives of institutions in the areas of Health, Science and Technology, unions, consulates and universities, and parliamentarians, in addition to secretaries of the Ministry of Health (MS), were also present. Moreira said that Brazil, after going through difficult recent years, needs to be rebuilt and that this process will lead to the strengthening of Fiocruz. The President took advantage of the moment to announce the members of the Foundation's new Presidency team.
Elected by the institution's active public servants with 91.68% of the total valid votes, Mario Moreira reinforces the role of democracy in the institution (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
“We faced the challenge of maintaining Fiocruz under adverse conditions, the result of science denialism and neglect of health. But we overcame it, with unity and responsibility in a united and proud Fiocruz. For this reason, we are today experiencing more than simply a director taking office. We live the celebration of this institution's democratic project, always renewing itself and which has given it conditions to resist in times of crisis. The Foundation is a strategic institution of the Brazilian State and it was challenged to the extreme during the pandemic. I can say that this institution has become even more politically mature, occupying spaces that the previous government left vacant and assuming responsibilities. Fiocruz was exuberant”, appraised Moreira.
The ceremony began with the presentation of an institutional video from Fiocruz, and then the audience heard the National Anthem, played by a flutist. After the anthem, actress Sara Hanna read Os Estatutos do Homem (Ato Institucional Permanente) [The Statutes of Man (Permanent Institutional Act)], written by poet Thiago de Mello and dedicated to journalist and writer Carlos Heitor Cony. Then, the former coordinator of Health Surveillance and Reference Laboratories at Fiocruz, Rivaldo Venâncio, narrated the professional and academic trajectory of the new president. The representative of the National Health Council (CNS), Paulo Garrido, made a brief intervention and read a message from the body's President saluting Fiocruz.
The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima, and representatives of institutions in the areas of Health, Science and Technology (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
Researcher Valdiléa Veloso, representing Fiocruz's Decision-Making Body, said that the expressive vote that the new President received in the election – more than 90% of the votes – reveals a Foundation united around its director. She stated that, in the period between 2016 and 2022, there was a dismantling of science and technology institutions in Brazil, but that Fiocruz resisted.
“Fiocruz's response to the health emergency was spectacular and the result of hard work and efforts. All this allowed the SUS [Unified Health System] to become better known and admired, although we deeply regret the many deaths that could have been avoided if it had not been for the omission of the previous government. However, despite the good response we gave, it is essential that there is more investment in research, as the intensity and diversity of public health challenges are immense. Health systems need to be better prepared for emergencies, as the COVID-19 will not be the last. We have to invest in health surveillance and knowledge and in coping with emerging and infectious diseases”. Valdiléa ended her participation by quoting the beginning of the poem O outro Brasil que vem aí [The other Brazil that is coming], by sociologist and writer Gilberto Freyre: “I hear the voices/ I see the colors/ I feel the steps/ of the other Brazil that is coming/ more tropical/ more fraternal/ more Brazilian”.
The president of the Fiocruz Workers' Union (Asfoc), Mychelle Alves, recalled that Mario Moreira had an active role in the union and participated in several workers' campaigns. The President of the Industry Federation of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Firjan), Eduardo Eugenio Gouvêa Vieira, a member of the Fiocruz Advisory Board, said that the Foundation shows, daily, that the hard work of researchers changes the lives of Brazilians for the better. The president of the National Council of Health Secretariats (Conass), Fábio Baccheretti, noted that Fiocruz brought hope to Brazilians during the pandemic and that the institution is much more than the vaccines that it produces and saves so many lives.
The executive secretary of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), Luis Manuel Rebelo Fernandes, highlighted that Fiocruz is “one of the crown jewels of the national science and technology system and one of the main trenches for the defense of science in the country. The pandemic was overcome, democracy returned, science returned, Brazil returned. But the battle against denialism continues. Fiocruz and MCTI are partners in building the same ideal”. Rio de Janeiro's Municipal Secretary of Health, Daniel Soranz, commented that the election of Mario Moreira means hope. “The hope of resuming the health reform and the fight for a more equitable SUS”.
After the interventions, the instrument of investiture was read and, then, the new President gave his speech. Moreira greeted those present, the Fiocruz Decision-Making Body representatives, workers and students and said that he felt “great pride and joy, besides an immense sense of responsibility”. He was moved when he remembered his father, recently deceased, and mentioned his children, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, wife and ex-wife present at the ceremony. He also honored the former Presidents of Fiocruz who attended the event, Akira Homma, Carlos Morel, Paulo Buss and Paulo Gadelha. And he thanked the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima, whom he succeeded as President of Fiocruz, for the learning during the six years of her term in which he served as Vice President of Management and Institutional Development.
Mario thanked the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade Lima, whom he succeeded as President of Fiocruz, for the learning during her tenure (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
Moreira said that Fiocruz's democratic management project generates divergences, but also many consensuses, such as those made explicit in the guidelines and theses of the Foundation's Internal Congress (CI). “The last two editions of the Internal Congress, from 2017 to 2021, are like a compass which greatly assist in the management and that project Fiocruz forwards”. He stated that, unlike what happened with other Fiocruz Presidents, now it will not be necessary to call a new CI.
The new representative recalled that national inequalities were even more exposed with the COVID-19. “Brazil has less than 3% of the world's population and had more than 11% of deaths in the pandemic. We need to clarify these responsibilities, so that they never happen again. There is no doubt that, without the SUS, the scenario would be even worse”. The president commented that the pandemic has brought many lessons. “Fiocruz has built a new technological and scientific basis since the COVID-19. We reached a new standard of technological assimilation in six months, as in the case of the vaccine against the coronavirus”.
He also mentioned the national importance of the Foundation, currently present in 11 states and in all five regions. And he added that Fiocruz, even in states where it does not have units, is present through collaborations with state and municipal health systems. “Additionally, it is important to expand our partnerships with Butantan, with the Vital Brazil Institute, with Tecpar, among others”.
Moreira mentioned some of Fiocruz's international partnerships and stated that the institution has also to insert itself in more mature environments, such as participating, by decision of the World Health Organization (WHO), in the development and production of vaccines with messenger RNA technology. According to the president, issues such as climate change – “a challenge that Fiocruz has to face at all levels” – and the Brazilian demographic transition must be among the priorities for the coming years. “Poverty, with the return of Brazil to the Hunger Map, is another problem that urges our responses”.
He also listed other priorities. Among them, the need to recompose Fiocruz's budget, based on understandings with the federal government, which will allow it to recover its investment capacity, carry out public tenders and adapt the Foundation's building facilities, in some cases quite outdated as they are buildings from decades earlier.
'We live the celebration of this institution's democratic project, always renewing itself and which has given it conditions to resist in times of crisis', said Mario Moreira (photo: Peter Ilicciev)
Moreira introduced the Presidency team, formed by Cristiani Vieira Machado (Vice President of Education, Information and Communication), Marco Krieger (Vice President of Production and Innovation in Health), Maria de Lourdes Aguiar Oliveira (Vice President of Research and Biological Collections), Hermano Casto (Vice President of Environment, Care and Health Promotion), Juliano Lima (Chief Executive Officer), Priscila Ferraz (Deputy Chief Executive Officer), Zélia Profeta (Chief of Staff), Liene Wegner (Coordinator of the Presidency Secretariat), Fabiana Damásio (Director of Fiocruz Brasília), Hilda da Silva Gomes (Coordinator of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Affirmative Policies), Marília Santini (Coordinator of Surveillance and Reference Laboratories), Pamela Lang (Coordinator of Social Communication), Paulo Buss (Center for International Relations in Health), Paulo Gadelha (Fiocruz 2030 Agenda) and Valber Frutuoso (Interinstitutional Relations Coordinator). He also introduced the special advisors to the Presidency: Wilson Savino, Carlos Maciel, Rivaldo Venâncio and Rodrigo de Oliveira. The Vice-Presidency for Management and Institutional Development was renamed the Executive Board.
At the end of the ceremony, Minister Nísia Trindade Lima said she wanted to celebrate democracy in Brazil and at Fiocruz. She said that the inauguration is a day of celebration and recalled Chacal's poem Rápido e rasteiro (Quick and quiet): “There's going to be a party/ in which I'm going to dance/ until my shoes ask me to stop/ then I stop/ take off my shoes/ and dance for the rest of my life”.
“We will have hard times going forward, we will have setbacks. But these will not be gloomy times, since it is a time of hope and of saluting democracy. Science is back at the Ministry of Health and Fiocruz is key, and will be even more so, for the health, environmental, scientific and social challenges we will face”, underlined Nísia.
She gave a brief summary of her career at the Foundation, mentioning the Oswaldo Cruz House (COC/Fiocruz) and Editora Fiocruz. Nísia stated that she will always see the institution as a great school. The minister also added that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sent a message of support and thanks to Fiocruz for its role in the pandemic.
The new President
At Fiocruz since 1994, Mario Moreira holds a Doctoral Degree in Public Policies from the Federal University of Paraná, with a doctoral internship at the University of Coimbra, in Portugal, a Master's Degree in Public Health from the Sergio Arouca National School of Public Health (Ensp/Fiocruz) and in Technologies and Innovation from the University of Sussex, UK. He is also a specialist in Public Management from Fundação Getúlio Vargas. In 2017, he became Vice-President of Management and Institutional Development at Fiocruz, a position that became that of Chief Executive OFficer last year. He was elected on March 24 by permanent civil servants of the Foundation with 3,405 votes - 91.68% of the total of the 3,714 valid votes.