The Latin-American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME/PAHO/WHO) celebrated in 2017 its 50 years of work to democratize information, knowledge, and scientific evidence. For this important celebration, the Center held on October 6th an event in its current facilities and received representatives from several agencies at the federal, state, and municipal level. The institutions present were not only from the health sector, but also from other areas, such as environment, education, human rights, and others. The former Center directors, Celia Zaher, Abel L. Packer and Adalberto O. Tardelli also attended the event, as well as the Center employees and staff from PAHO/WHO Headquarters, PWR Brazil and Panaftosa.
The honorary panel was formed by Isabella Danel, Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO); Joaquín Molina, PAHO/WHO Representative in Brazil; Wilson Modesto Pollara, Municipal Health Secretary of São Paulo; Sueli Gonzales Saes, Director of the Technology Planning and Incorporation Group of the State Department of Health of Sao Paulo, representing the State Secretary Dr. David Everson Uip; Maria Resende de Caetano, General Coordinator of Documentation and Information, representing the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Antonio Carlos Figueiredo Nardi; Nísia Trindade Lima, President of the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ); and Diego González, BIREME/PAHO/WHO Director.
The event started with the presentation of an institutional BIREME video, showing part of its history, in addition to its products, services, and key users. Soon after, the participants watched a recorded message with congratulations from PAHO/WHO Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, who said open access to scientific and technical information is very important for decision-making policies and processes: “BIREME takes on an essential role to decrease the digital and information gap created as from the massive expansion of the web”, she highlighted.
Also in a filmed testimony, PAHO/WHO Subdirector and Interim Director of Knowledge, Bioethics, and Research Management (KBR), Francisco Becerra, praised the Center: “Thanks to BIREME, we have democratized access to health information.”
During the ceremony, PAHO/WHO Deputy Director, Isabella Danel, stated that “today, we celebrate many things: those of the past, present, and future. A past that started in 1967 with an agreement between PAHO and the US National Library of Medicine (NLM); a present with databases that enable us to foster and support the development of open science, based on solid principles that promote democratization of knowledge in health; and a future filled with opportunities with a new Global Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where 10 of its 17 objectives address issues of open access to data, information, education, web utilization, as well as adoption of information and communication technologies – all topics very much connected to BIREME mission.”
A future that also encompasses the implementation of a new 2018-2030 Agenda of Sustainable Health for the Americas, approved in the scope of the Pan American Sanitary Conference, held in Washington DC, in September 25-29, 2017, in which BIREME also played a leading role in supporting countries from the Americas.
For the PAHO/WHO representative in Brazil, Joaquín Molina, the Specialized Center is important because it offers tools that help turn diffuse information into knowledge. “That is what enables us to make better decisions to help countries meet their international commitments, which will allow for improvement in the overall population health. Generations and generations of healthcare professionals and decision makers relied on BIREME’s priceless support.”
Health representatives from the three government levels – federal, state and municipal -recognized BIREME’s work, its historical mission in Brazil, and its contribution to compiling and reporting evidence-based scientific information.
The Director Diego González believes that in celebrating its 50 years, BIREME is also acknowledging and celebrating the work, dedication, engagement, and commitment of all players who were and are part of this history of success, accomplished results, and overcome challenges. He also reiterated his acknowledgements to all for attending the event that will be a landmark in the historical path of the Latin-American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information.
An emotional message of best wishes in the form of a song sung by a Paraguayan boy and a performance featuring capoeira – an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines dance, music, and acrobatics, as well as body language – closed an event that represented five decades of BIREME continuous work.