Observatory for Sustainable and Healthy Territories of Bocaina (OTSS) is now an institutional program of Fiocruz - Fiotec

OTSS is the result of a partnership between Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and the Forum of Traditional Communities of Angra dos Reis, Paraty and Ubatuba (FCT). Supported by Fiotec, it acts in indigenous, quilombola and caiçara communities of the region since 2009. OTSS proposes the generation of critical knowledge, and furthers the dialog between traditional and scientific information in order to design strategies providing the traditional communities and their territories with sustainability, health and rights.


An Ordinance of August 14th, signed by Fiocruz's president, Nísia Trindade, turned the OTSS project into a permanent program of the Foundation. In accordance with Edmundo Gallo, titular researcher of Fiocruz and general coordinator of OTSS, “the creation of Bocaina Program means that the Institutions is assuming the commitment to constantly act in the territory to ensure that the way of life of the traditional communities is reproduced, and that sustainable and health territories are built.”


The new program will be subordinated to the Vice-Presidency of Environment, Healthcare and Health Promotion (VPAAPS) of Fiocruz, and its activities will remain supported by Fiotec. We have talked to Edmundo Gallo about the Observatory's 10 years of operation, and also about the project institutionalization and the challenges being faced:


Is it possible to list the Observatory's main achievements and breakthroughs over these years?

OTSS has advanced in several fields, the first one being the territory legitimacy. This partnership between Fiocruz and the Forum is a reference for discussing any issue that involves traditional peoples and communities. It has even resulted in the recent creation of the Undersecretariat of Traditional Peoples and Communities by the Municipal Government of Paraty; in the foundation of eight special schools in traditional communities; and also in the establishment of a special education program by the Municipal Education Secretariat of Paraty. In addition, a work plan aimed at the ecological sanitation of the traditional communities and at the organization and articulation to defend these communities from COVID-19 has been launched.

Institutionally, we have advanced with Fiocruz’s creation of the Development Program for Bocaina Sustainable and Healthy Territories, which acknowledges the Observatory as the coordinator of this process and the leadership of FCT.

How will the project’s institutionalization benefit the traditional populations of Bocaina region?

This ensures that Fiocruz will permanently operate in the territory, in a constant partnership with the traditional peoples, which will improve and promote greater advancements in several fronts in which the Observatory already acted.


How will the new program work the “social determining factors of health,” which associate aspects such as working conditions and leisure directly with health promotion?

The Observatory already deals with the social determination of life and health. People frequently ask what we do in the health area, since we do not work with classical issues, such as healthcare and health assistance, or even health prevention in a more conventional sense. But the truth is that the Observatory works with action focuses that handle the distal determining factor of health, such as economy, culture, housing policies and conditions, work and income generation, and culture preservation. This is what differs the OTSS operation from the majority of the works relating to public health.


How did the campaign “Cuidar é Resistir” (“Caring is Resisting”) associate the scientific practices required to prevent COVID-19 with the communities' traditional knowledge?

The campaign is precisely a product of the Observatory's experience, of this partnership between traditional and scientific knowledge to reach new solutions to life and health demands. “Cuidar é Resistir” was launched exactly to stress the importance of issues such as female empowerment, agroecology, fishing, community organization and territory defense in order to produce a sanitary, social, family and nutritional safety situation. Therefore, the campaign is the combination of these two practices (traditional and scientific knowledge) so as to act in the territory in a whole new fashion, to build a different social relationship that is more solidary and cooperative, able to improve the well-being of these populations.

With information from Communication/OTSS and Fiocruz.