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Resilience and mobilization

The press has reported widely on the imminent repatriation of an Ubirajara jubatus dinosaur fossil illegally removed from Northeast Brazil in 1995. In more recent years, UNESCO has been discussing the ethics of the cultural goods market, trying to reach a consensus on the sale of objects with historical value.

In May, Brazil joined the Subsidiary Committee of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, the primary international legal framework for combating the trafficking of cultural goods. As the owner of a large collection of fossils, sacred objects, books, and old documents, Brazil has been making strong progress in the preservation of its heritage. It recently created a Red List of objects at greatest risk of illegal trade.

The National Science, Technology, and Innovation Indicators for 2020 and 2021 were released in May, showing a decline in R&D investment. The amount a country invests in R&D is a measure of its efforts to stimulate the fundamental aspects of its national development. It includes basic and applied research, scientific education and training, and the creation of new products and processes.

Between 2019 and 2020, federal investment in R&D increased, state investment remained stable, and private funding fell — the scale of the decrease in the private sector is still being evaluated. In Brazil, scientific and technological production is closely associated with public institutions, which even rank highest among patent applications, something not seen in most richer countries. Knowledge production within companies or through partnerships between the public and private sectors, however, is essential to the technological, economic, and social advancement of a country and feeds back into scientific activity.

Public policies are crucial to inducing and guiding a nation’s development, which depends on regular evaluations and studies. A book recently released by Brazil’s Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) analyzes the reformulation of several Brazilian public policies since 2016. Some areas, such as health and culture, showed greater resilience than others, like the environment and indigenous rights.

In this issue’s cover story, editor Ricardo Zorzetto describes the steps researchers are taking, including the creation of a comprehensive report, to encourage the government to draw up a national strategy against the growing public health issue of dementia.

Most countries are facing increased rates of of dementia due to the rise in life expectancy. It is the low- and middle-income countries, however, that are most urgently demanding policies to help combat the problem, the most prevalent form of which is Alzheimer’s disease. Education is one of the various factors directly related to brain health — literacy stimulates an anatomical and functional alteration of the organ. Training health professionals on how to effectively diagnose dementia can help prevent or delay new cases.

Recent campaigns and media reports have aimed to shine a light on the chronic shortages of organ donors in Brazil. One lesser-known obstacle is organ rejection by transplant teams. A study carried out by technicians from the Brazilian Ministry of Health shows that 63% of solid organs (liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, and lungs) are rejected; of this total, 59% are refused due to the clinical condition of the donor.