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Beyond Manguinhos


Many of the scientists who graduated from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) have made important contributions to other institutions, both public and private. One such case is Dr. Arthur Neiva (1880–1943) from Bahia, who was the first director of the Biological Institute of São Paulo, created in 1927, while another is the Rio de Janeiro physician Henrique da Rocha Lima (1879–1956), who discovered—when working in Germany—the bacterium that caused epidemic typhus (see Pesquisa FAPESP issue no. 190).

Even today, there are many examples of researchers educated at FIOCRUZ who are playing a prominent role at other institutions. For physician Julio Müller Neto, his studies in public health at FIOCRUZ represented an important academic foundation for his role as Health Secretary of Mato Grosso, from 1995 to 2002. Biologist Guilherme de Oliveira, who graduated from FIOCRUZ Minas, went to Belém, Parana in order to contribute to the study of environmental genomics at the Vale Institute of Technology. Oliveira was one of the scientists who coordinated the sequencing of Biomphalaria glabrata, the snail that is the primary host of Schistosoma mansoni, which causes schistosomiasis.

Through international cooperation programs, FIOCRUZ academic and scientific training has also borne fruit in other countries in Latin America and Africa. One prominent name is Franco Cazembe Mufinda. A graduate of the FIOCRUZ master’s program in 2010, he was head of the Angolan State Secretariat for Public Health in 2019. “The structural cooperation programs conducted by FIOCRUZ in Africa and South America seek to strengthen the local institutions,” emphasizes physician Cristina Guilam, general coordinator of Education at the Foundation’s Vice Presidency for Education, Information and Communication (VPEIC). She explains that what sets these programs apart is that courses are offered in the student’s countries of origin, to strengthen local staff through international agreements.

In Mozambique, where the FIOCRUZ Regional Office for Representation in Africa (FIOCRUZ Africa) was created, the International Cooperation Program in Graduate Health Sciences is being developed. And, in partnership with the Mozambique National Institute of Health (INS), courses are offered in a series of FIOCRUZ graduate programs. The classes are taught mainly at the INS headquarters, in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, but include activities conducted at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute labs, in Rio de Janeiro.

In Angola, the National School of Public Health (ENSP-FIOCRUZ) offered a master’s program in public health from 2007 to 2011, meeting a demand from the Angolan Ministry of Health, which sought to train specialized personnel. The classes took place on the premises of the Nursing Institute at Agostinho Neto University, but the students also had the opportunity to participate in seminars and take certain courses in Brazil.

The VPEIC assesses the impact of educations provided by FIOCRUZ on the academic and professional trajectories of its former students. In March, the institution completed a survey of graduates from 40 master’s degree programs, 102 specialization courses, and 34 residency programs from 2013 to 2019. An email questionnaire was sent to 8,559 students, receiving a 51% return rate. The next stage will include alumni of secondary vocational education courses, from 2013 through 2020.

“This is the first survey we’ve done in this global and institutional way. Our goal is that we’ll soon have a continuous follow-up system integrated with our academic management system,” says biologist Isabella Delgado, coordinator of the graduate specialization courses at the VPEIC. She is responsible for the survey, together with sociologist Suely Deslandes, of the Fernandes Figueira National Institute of Health for Women, Children and Adolescents (IFF-FIOCRUZ).

In addition to meeting the requirements of the new assessment form approved in 2018 by the Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES), which includes following up with graduates, the survey was aimed at getting an accurate portrayal of the institution. “This is a need that the programs themselves feel, a management tool that will contribute to planning education initiatives and meeting the needs of society,” says Delgado. For Deslandes, their research showed that the institution has fulfilled the role of training staff for public health institutions: public research institutes and public universities were the locations most cited as current workplaces.