Q and A: Dr. Paulo Gadelha, President, FIOCRUZ Brazil

You are now serving in your second term as President of FIOCRUZ Brazil, one of the only national public health institutes where this is an elected position. How does having an elected, rather than appointed, president affect the leadership at FIOCRUZ?

The decision to hold FIOCRUZ elections was inspired by the tradition of the elections for Deans at Brazilian universities, and the democratic process that was put in place after the dictatorial time (1985). We believe that the participation of the institutional community in the appointment of its President brings better commitment to the policies and plans of the institution.

How might this be an example to other NPHIs?

Each institution has its own traditions and processes of governance, including the appointment of their high-level leaders, and this is good. But all things can be reformed. The good evaluation of FIOCRUZ’s process of governance and appointment of its President can perhaps inspire other NPHIs. Ultimately, it’s the commitment of the community that is the key contribution in the election of Directors as a tool of governance.

FIOCRUZ’s footprint across Brazil has expanded since you came into office in 2009, and continues to expand with the goal of reaching all regions and the 11 states of Brazil. What has been the greatest challenge of expanding your work throughout Brazil?

The greatest challenge has been identifying the needs of the biomes, territories, regions, and states, through the vocation and expertise of FIOCRUZ, to solve the different health problems and questions existing in the different parts of Brazil. But thanks to the efforts made by the regional FIOCRUZ’s chiefs and researchers we have been overcoming those challenges.

IANPHI has strongly advocated for regional networking among members. How does regional networking through groups such as RINS-UNASUR benefit South American NPHIs?

The South American NPHI Network was established in 2010 by the UNASUR Health Council, and received the empowerment of Ministers of Health from the Region. Sharing common challenges, members of the Network also share solutions developed by each institute. The Executive Secretariat stimulates ongoing dialogue among NPHI members, including a continuous interchange of researchers and technicians, courses, seminars, and more. A recent example of this work is the biosafety lab course that came out of the seminar on the Ebola epidemics held last December 2014.

Is there anything else you would like to discuss?

FIOCRUZ has been developing a permanent foresight process called Health in Brazil in 2030: the strategic prospection to the health system, which analyzes the health situation and the challenges both for our health system and for FIOCRUZ. We have also been developing the FIOCRUZ 2014-2017 Quadrennial Plan. These plans are aimed at orienting both my administration, and future administrations of FIOCRUZ.

We are very confident with the important role that IANPHI plays in the implementation of NPHIs all around the world, and will continue to support its work and leadership now and in the future.

*INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.

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