BIREME Bulletin n° 44

Organizational strengthening of BIREME in emergency teleworking due to COVID-19

The Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME) entered into emergency teleworking due to the COVID-19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020, therefore, immediately activating its Business Continuity Plan (BCP). This decision is also in line with the recommendations of health authorities to cooperate in containing the transmission of the new coronavirus in Brazil, which registers more than 300,000 confirmed cases and more than 22,000 deaths, while the state of SĂŁo Paulo, where BIREME is located, contains 21% of the confirmed cases across the country[1].

Even in this challenging context and with all of its employees in teleworking, BIREME continues to implement actions for the effective performance of its organizational structure of governance, management and operation, aiming at the implementation of its 2020-2021 Biannual Work Plan (PTB 20-21), within the framework of its technical cooperation for access and management of health information and knowledge. Special emphasis is given to making projects, products and services available to support health professionals, decision-makers, managers, researchers and teachers and undergraduate and graduate students in health sciences in Brazil and in all countries of the Region in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following developments should be highlighted: (1) Window of Knowledge about COVID-19; (2) WHO Database (COVID-19), developed with the support of BIREME, reusing the GIM (Global Index Medicus) research interface; (3) Evidence Maps on the use of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine in the treatment of COVID-19; (4) Resources from the Virtual Health Library (VHL) on the new coronavirus and COVID-19; and (5) Support to the PAHO/WHO evidence database. BIREME also supports PAHO/WHO and PAHO Brazil in the development of suppliers and customs clearance of Personal Protective Equipment at SĂŁo Paulo International Airport.

portaisBIREME also continues to participate in more than 25 institutional meetings per month coordinated by PAHO/WHO and which align the management and provide feedback to the Center’s processes and developments, and also motivates the participation of of all its employees, especially in events related to mental health and well-being, stress management and family resilience, the content of which is made available by PAHO/WHO.

More specifically, it promotes integrative and social activities for the constant exchange of knowledge, experiences and information, and alignment to the organizational objectives and results in order to respond to the changes and challenges of the present context, make its management effective and meet its technical cooperation program:

  • Meetings and encounters to align processes
    1. Director and Managers: weekly meetings to forward priorities, discuss and realign strategic processes
    2. Team overviews: periodic meetings to forward priorities, discuss and realign tactical and operational processes
    3. WhatsApp Groups (BIREME General; Managers; Management and FYI Bulletin): for an almost daily exchange about individual, collective, and general topics related to the actors involved and information of the current context
  • BIREME Bulletin: institutional communication vehicle published monthly in three languages (Portuguese, Spanish and English) and distributed to its subscribers by email. Each edition contains 6 (six) texts elaborated by the collaborators together with the BIREME Communication team.
  • Institutional Site: BIREME’s website available in three languages (Portuguese, Spanish and English) that integrates a collection of sites from the PAHO Headquarters and the Representations and Centers in the Region. Provides institutional information about BIREME, its mission, objectives, governance, and history. Publishes weekly news about the development of the Work Plan, its projects, products, and services.
  • FYI Bulletin: the FYI (For Your Information) is an institutional vehicle of internal communication, updated daily, operated by the Communication unit with the collaboration of employees. The content also comes from the information available in the Outlook Agendas.
  • Institutional Social Networks: Updated daily, the Institutional Facebook and Twitter pages are a vehicle for the dissemination of the technical cooperation activities, products, services, and sharing the actions of PAHO, WHO and associated institutions.
  • Agenda of Institutional Commitments: online agenda available on Microsoft Outlook for all BIREME employees.

onlineTeam Building: A facilitator from the area of psychology and staff development facilitates sessions at least twice a year to discuss and reflect on respective concepts and the development of activities about teamwork and the strengthening of high-performance teams. It was possible to adapt this activity to the online format, which has the active participation of all staff, reinforcing aspects of mental health and adaptation to teleworking.

  • Coffee with ideas: monthly activity for the sharing of the main institutional activities achieved involving all instances and employees of BIREME. At the end, the birthdays of the month are celebrated.

Notification on one’s birthday: On one’s birthday, the employee receives an email notification with the well-wishes from BIREME and all of the employees also receive a notification so they can be aware and greet their colleagues accordingly.

  • Commemorative Dates: joint actions are developed between the areas of Communication and Human Resources corresponding to the national commemorative and institutional dates of the PAHO/WHO calendar (e.g. BIREME birthdays, the Technical Cooperation Program with the VHL; International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day, Librarian’s Day, etc.).
  • Physical Activity: an associated volunteer teacher facilitates stretching classes once a week, for fifteen minutes, to encourage regular physical activity.
  • EIH Space: Since BIREME is part of the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health, it participates in this activity with a biweekly frequency, to present different projects developed by the functional units and the Center, which together make up the Department.

These lines of action mobilize the employees’ commitment to the mission and objectives of PAHO/WHO and BIREME through teamwork, considering the characteristics of the high performance teams and the institutional effort at the strategic, tactical and operational levels towards the fulfillment of the Center’s mission and execution of its PTB 20-21 even though the global priority is the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for which BIREME is also very determined to cooperate effectively.


[1] Data from Brazil Coronavirus Panel. Accessed on June 1st, 2020.

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