On December 18, 2020, BIREME held its traditional year-end meeting to recognize the main results achieved during the year 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation determined that the meeting should take place online, which has not diminished, however, the enthusiasm of the collaborators and the number of results obtained during the year, in which everyone was in telework for three quarters of the time, maintaining contact through information and communication technologies.
Creativity, combined with technology, was used to compensate for physical distance. Thus, our visual communication professionals created screen backgrounds to give the impression that we all shared the “same space”. The slido.com application was used to share quizzes on topics about BIREME products and management, to be answered online by employees, which also provided an opportunity to learn a little more about BIREME. Even a virtual bingo was customized by fellow developers to cheer up the meeting, with the right to a prize for the winner.
The most important part, as usual, was the presentation by the Center’s Director and Managers reporting the main results of management, technical cooperation, administration and general operation, reporting on the evolution of BIREME’s products and services as a specialized PAHO/WHO Center in health information and scientific communication, and the administrative processes that manage the human and financial resources, processes and projects, following and ensuring institutional alignment and the Organization’s processes and policies.
Diego González, Director of BIREME, began his presentation by highlighting the unique condition of the year 2020 and how we had to adapt to teleworking conditions to continue developing the projects of the Center’s institutional partners, and the fulfillment of the mission, by launching new products and services and mark important celebrations like the 35th anniversary of LILACS, complete projects and achieve the established goals of its Biannual Working Plan (BWP 20-21). He also highlighted that this year, four virtual sessions of the Center’s Governance Committees were held, which resulted in relevant recommendations. The Director also mentioned that BIREME is even more integrated with the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health (EIH) and other departments at PAHO Headquarters and Country Offices.
The ties with the Ministry of Health of Brazil have just been strengthened, with the signing of the Second Term of Adjustment of the Cooperation Term 93 (TA2/TC93), through PAHO Brazil, for the strengthening of BIREME, and of TA6/TC95, in force until June 2021.
In the topic of scholarly communication, González mentioned the series webinars of the VHL (Virtual Health Library) and BiblioSUS (Libraries of the Unified Health System) networks and the participation of BIREME in congresses and meetings during the year, as well as the translation into Portuguese of introductory course on scientific communication, which is already at the Virtual Campus for Public Health (VCPH), scheduled to open in January 2021. In the area of institutional communication, the new interface of BIREME’s institutional website is worth mention, with detailed information on the institutional partners and information on all products and services, in addition to the 50th edition of the BIREME Bulletin.
Next, Veronica Abdala (Information Sources Manager) highlighted the main results in her area, in particular the online celebration of the 35th anniversary of Latin American and Caribbean Literature in Health Sciences (LILACS), which had more than 400 participants from 27 countries. The commemorative website includes testimonials in the form of video, timeline, photo gallery and numerous materials that recall the history of the evolution of this important database. Veronica also highlighted the 2020 VHL Guide; the series of webinars from the VHL and BiblioSUS networks; the formation of the State Health Secretariats Network through the project with CONASS; the Windows of Knowledge, with emphasis on the one on COVID-19; and Evidence Maps, among others.
Renato Murasaki, Manager of Methodologies and Information Technologies presented his team’s results in numerical terms, reporting that they were very well suited to remote work, thanks to adaptation and flexibility, and frequent monitoring meetings. Thus, they accounted for increasing access to the VHL Regional portal, the main search interface for the collection of information sources in scientific and technical health literature. The database on global literature in COVID-19 of the World Health Organization (WHO), built in collaboration with BIREME based on VHL technology, is one of the highlights of 2020, as is the Global Index Medicus (GIM) whose technological platform was developed by BIREME.
Veronica Abdala and Renato Murasaki, through projects in the Terms of Cooperation of PAHO Brazil with the Ministry of Health, Departments of PAHO/WHO Headquarters, Health State Secretariat, and the World Health Organization, among others, supported the mobilization of financial resources overcoming moments of the Center’s financial crisis, due to COVID-19.
Silvia de Valentin, Manager of Administration and Planning (GA) at BIREME presented the results of the main axes of her Management: Activities with the direction of BIREME; Support to project management and formalization of agreements and transfer of resources; Finance and controllership; Participation and presentation of GA in institutional events of BIREME and EIH; Implementation of actions related to COVID-19: emergency teleworking; Participation in meetings and networks led by PAHO/WHO Headquarters; Management of consultancy and service contracts; Human Resources administration activities; and ITI coordination activities.
Silvia highlighted the efforts to maintain institutional relations, the monitoring of the Biannual Work Plan (BWP) 20-21, its sources of financing, cash flow and support for project management in coordination with the Directorate and Technical Managements, considering the challenges due to the global pandemic of COVID-19 and the guarantee of the entire BIREME operation including the availability of information technology infrastructure (ITI) and maintenance of building infrastructure as well, during emergency teleworking since mid-March 2020.
BIREME’s Managers and Director were unanimous in pointing out that the dedication and adaptability not only of their teams, but also of their families, who make the teams even more resilient, were vital to achieve the mentioned results.
The Director EIH, of which BIREME is a member, Sebastián Garcia, expressed his satisfaction in attending virtually this meeting and witnessing the integration among BIREME employees, which he attributes as an important part of the excellent results obtained.