The FIOCRUZ Global Health Center (CRIS) is an advisory body working directly with the Office of the President of FIOCRUZ, founded in 2009 with the aim of supporting the Foundation’s international activities. At the time, developing countries were showing interest in cooperating with Brazil in health. The Global Health Center was created to respond to the intensification of these processes, especially advising the Ministry of Health and even the Office of the President of Brazil on international cooperation, in what has come to be known as diplomacy in health, science, and technology.
“This process involved the Ministry of Health and FIOCRUZ. The Global Health Center was created due to the need for a more appropriate structure to meet the emerging international demands and to mobilize the resources and technically manage the resulting cooperation. Beyond these two roles, CRIS also advises the Office of the President on all international matters referred to it,” said Paulo Buss, former President of FIOCRUZ and current Director of the Global Health Center.
Although the Center coordinates all of the Foundation’s international cooperation, each unit of FIOCRUZ has its own international areas, and their staff are the ones who actually conduct the cooperation. “We here at CRIS don’t have all the areas of expertise; our responsibility is to facilitate the researchers’ international cooperation, and in this role, to support the Foundation’s various institutes,” the Director explained. A Technical Chamber was created for this purpose, convening coordinators named by the directors of each respective area of international cooperation in the FIOCRUZ units and meeting regularly to schedule, share, and assess the activities, in addition to debating pertinent issues.
Paulo Buss explained that in these nearly ten years, CRIS has developed four kinds of cooperation. North-South cooperation generally occurs with the developed countries and larger institutions or those with greater scientific scope, such as the partnerships with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) or universities funded by them, and European institutes such as Pasteur and others. Another kind of cooperation is South-South, with countries and institutions from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Portuguese-speaking Africa, as well as Asian countries, institutes, and universities. “Another example of cooperation is triangular, North-South-South, which is happening now with the KFW Project (Brazil-Germany-Uruguay), for example, and finally South-North cooperation, increasingly common because of the expertise we’ve been acquiring and the demands coming from the countries of the North,” said the Director.
All these types of cooperation are extremely important considering the partnerships for financing. “Based on the Foundation’s normal budget for institutional subsistence and maintenance, FIOCRUZ couldn’t afford all these cooperative projects, all of which involve the Global Health Center. That’s why there’s always a tendency towards fundraising,” explained CRIS special advisor Claudia Parente.
Fundraising has become even more important because of Brazil’s current political, economic, and financial crisis. “There is a major budget crisis in health, which is going to impact international cooperation. There are paradoxes, but the tendency is for us to look abroad, to international cooperation. We’re going to have to look for triangular agreements and rely on private and philanthropic foundations. Still, based on our experience in responding respectfully and efficiently to partners, we have great fundraising capacity,” Buss added.
The impact of Brazil’s crisis on health and the intersection between international relations and the health field are addressed in the book “Health Diplomacy and Global Health”, organized by Paulo Buss and Sebastian Tobar. The publication, released in October 2017, aims to debate health in the global scenario, its challenges, and the issues shaping it socially and economically. The anthology features 40 authors who address health’s presence in diplomacy with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. Learn more
Partnership with FIOTEC
“The cooperation involves four formats, and FIOTEC participates in all of them,” commented Paulo Buss, discussing the relationship between CRIS and FIOTEC. The Global Health Center has already developed more than 25 projects with FIOTEC’s support. The relationship is not just essential: it’s strategic. “We believe FIOTEC should be involved as early as possible in the cooperation. We insist on this, because FIOTEC’s understanding of the project and process is highly useful, from the beginning, with practical suggestions for various mechanisms where it has more expertise,” he said.
One project developed in partnership between FIOCRUZ and CRIS was “Strengthening the Haitian Health System”, through triangular cooperation (Brazil-Cuba-Haiti). The project took four years. “The project was extremely important, executed at the local level in Port-au-Prince, Haiti with the support of three FIOCRUZ units, ENSP, ICICT, and the Health Channel, who contributed greatly to recovering that country’s health system. Without FIOTEC’s partnership managing the project, the cooperation would certainly not have been possible. It was a mutual learning process. It was a very challenging project, but conducted successfully,” commented Claudia Parente.
The experience with the Haiti project is also reported in the book “Health Diplomacy and Global Health”.