The country’s main agency when dealing with technological issues and standards for assessing the quality of inputs, products, environments and services in the health sector is the National Institute for Quality Assurance in Health (INCQS), which comprises the National System of Sanitary Surveillance, and has a background of over 30 years worth of experience. Among the products assessed by INCQS, one can highlight generic and reference drugs, as well as a project in cooperation with the People’s Pharmacy Program; purified water for hemodialysis, aimed at improving the treatment provided to patients, blood byproducts; and serum and vaccines used by the National Immunization Program of the Ministry of Health. The list of tested products also includes cosmetics and foods.
New equipment purchased by INCQS allowed it to expand its operations in the areas of food and medicines. Over four thousand reports are issued every year. In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that this Fiocruz Institute is at the same level as the best institutions of developed countries to assess vaccine quality.
In addition to reviewing products and issuing technical opinions on sanitary surveillance, the INCQS works in collaboration with the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) and with state and municipal surveillance services in the inspection of industries and laboratories, and in the development of sanitary legislation. It also operates in the development, validation and deployment of new analytical methodologies, such as tests for genetically modified organisms.
Other important activities performed by the INCQS are the establishment and provision of chemical and biological reference materials used in the analyses. These are provided not only to the central laboratories (Lacens) of various states of Brazil, but also to public health institutions. In addition to Lacens, various public agencies of the country relied on the advice of INCQS. As for the training of human resources, INCQS offers academic and professional doctors’ and masters’ degree level courses in sanitary surveillance, in addition to a specialization in quality assurance of products, environments and services related to sanitary surveillance, and refresher courses to Lacens.