Integrated policies and innovation in health to leave no one behind

Photo by UNDP/Marco Dormino.

1st Fair on Solutions for Health advances the debate on sustainable development in Brazil with more than 1,400 participants

On August 10th the director of the UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre), Dr.  Romulo Paes de Sousa, delivered a presentation on the nexus between the 2030 Agenda and health during the 1st Fair on Solutions for Health: ZykaThe event, held between 8th and 10th August in Bahia (a Brazilian Northeast state), was organized by Fiocruz in the city of Salvador and counted with the presence of Bahia’s Governor Mr. Rui Costa. The governor opened the sessions stressing the importance of hosting scientific events and technology production. The state of Bahia was chosen as first host due to its successful experience in conceiving quick diagnose exam and also because it is where the Center for the Integration of Data on Health knowledge (CIDACS/Fiocruz Bahia) is located. 

More than 1,400 people signed up for this first edition of the fair that counted with 58 activities (17 round tables, 12 symposiums, 16 workshops, 11 dialogue sessions and 2 seminars). This was the first of a total of 5 fairs, that will cover the 5 geographic regions of Brazil (Salvador in Northeast; Manaus in North; Curitiba in South; Rio de Janeiro in Southeast; and Brasilia in Center West). The event also offered an opportunity for researchers, practitioners, entrepreneurs and companies to present services, social, and industrial solutions to tackle the Zyka virus (such as mosquito traps, vaccines, diagnostic kits, software, and educational material). Raising awareness on health issues previously unknown, or that were not popular, was the main goal of the gathering.

“New infections, such as Zyka, create a high level of uncertainty not only due to its immediate impacts, but especially the long-term ones, such as the microcephaly and the Guillain-Barre syndrome. Sustainable Development initiatives present in the 2030 Development Agenda, supported by the RIO+ Centre, might help to deaccelerate the risk of such outbreaks by integrating social economic policies and fostering sanitation, urban planning, reducing deforestation and the emission of Green House Gases”, said Mr. Paes de Sousa.

The RIO+ Centre’s director compared UNDP experience in Africa during the Ebola Outbreak with steps taken in Brazil to tackle the Zyka effects using Social Protection policies. His presentation “Health/Disease and Development” addressed the organizer’s request of presenting evidences of the use of public policies to a healthy sustainable development. According to Romulo, “walls we will not prevent the virus from spreading through the borders, the issue is to understand the resources that States and societies have to solve the problems the virus can cause. These impacts and problems need to be addressed in an integrated manner”.

During the Ebola outbreak in 2013 – 2015, thousands of people were affected and many of them died - mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. That led to several multisector impacts, with schools’ closure, interruption of public services and transportation, and abandoning of crops. Mr. Paes stressed that large-scale impacts might result from health outbreaks, explaining the 5-steps approach adopted by UN in Africa to deal with  the situation:  stop the outbreak; treat infected people; guarantee basic services; preserve stability; and prevent outbreaks elsewhere.

The Brazilian approach to early identify families, especially children, affected with Zyka and including them as beneficiaries of benefits under the Social Protection policy was welcomed by Mr. Paes. He also praised Fiocruz’s initiatives to tackle the disease, developing diagnostic protocols and mobilizing different actors to find suitable solutions. In his opinion, other countries in the Global South are likely to benefit from the domestic developments in Brazil.

Besides the UNDP, other UN agencies, such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNICEF were present in the fair. Romulo Paes took advantage of the specialized public to invite them to attend the launch of the report “An evaluation of the socioeconomic impact of Zyka virus in Latin America and Caribbean” by UNDP, that was held in Brasilia on August 15th. The event also reinforced the importance of integrating health and protection systems to tackle epidemics and leave no one behind.

Photos: During session "Development and Innovation in Health" at the 1st Fair on Solutions for Health: Zika. Photo credit to FioCruz.