ICICT welcomes representatives of Doctors without Borders to debate health awareness initiatives

On Monday, May 8, 2023

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How to research results of health work? How to identify the most effective locations at which to provide medical and health care? How to create prediction models for disasters and emergencies based on uncertain data?

These and many other issues were debated between members of the Institute of Communication and Information in Health (ICICT) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on March 21st. The meeting brought together 10 representatives, 5 from each institution, in the media room of ICICT.

Christovam Barcellos, Diego Ricardo Xavier, Heglaucio da Silva Barros, Renata Gracie and Vanderlei Matos, researchers of the Observatory for Climate and Health, representing ICICT, welcomed the 5 professionals from MSF. The team of the latter international organisation, who included two epidemiologists, one doctor, one anthropologist and one communication advisor, represented 2 medical units of MSF: LuxOR, a unit based in Luxembourg (Europe) and responsible for operational research, and Bramu, MSF’s medical unit in Brazil.

The team leader of LuxOR, Amrish Baidjoe, presented in detail the organization and the project. He listed actions and activities relating to subjects such as: medical and humanitarian emergency intervention; conflicts, disasters, diseases and outbreaks; pillars and guidelines of MSF; changes and transformation in humanitarian response; intelligence in health; surveillance and monitoring actions; data and information.

In addition to questions about the strategies and medical intervention actions deployed by MSF, the researchers of ICICT took this opportunity to discuss cases of success, information monitoring, characteristics of the Observatory for Climate and Health and joint initiatives with other organizations. “Here in Brazil, we have partnerships with other public institutions like the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) and the INPE (National Institute for Space Research), which give us access to various data. In this way, we use the issue of health via Fiocruz to unite us to these organizations in specific actions and policies”, explained Diego Xavier. In the case of IBGE, the partnership with ICICT was activated during two recent emergencies: the tragedy of Brumadinho, in January 2019, and the Covid-19 pandemic, beginning in March 2020. Renata Gracie questioned the LuxOR team on how MSF monitors information and disease outbreaks. “In light of so many emergency situations, which are the criteria for you to choose that specific location to intervene? Would that intervention encompass other public policies in addition to medical care?” inquired the geographer.

The team from Médecins Sans Frontières said that the intervention was mostly concerned with medical care, since it was focused on the emergency. Nevertheless, after the intervention periods, training and support in formulating public policies can be organized and perform a very important role. According to the representatives of the organization, it is fundamental to establish conversations and partnerships with institutions such as Fiocruz so that it is possible to apply the results of researches in practical public health contexts, benefiting the populations concerned.

At the end of the meeting, some cooperation strategies were defined, such as exchange of health data, identification of climate risk areas and exchanges of technology, mainly in the development of information and warning systems. In the short term, the groups from the two institutions defined the crisis in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory as a priority for data collection and collaboration in the logistics of health actions.