BIREME Bulletin n° 63

BIREME 2021: recognizing its results

On December 16th, BIREME held its traditional end-of-year celebration virtually, for the second consecutive year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Per tradition, the main part of the event consists of the presentation by the acting Director and managers of the technical and administrative areas reporting the main results of the year.

Sebastián Garcia Saisó, Director of the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health (EIH) at PAHO Headquarters and Interim Director of BIREME since November 1, 2021, dedicated his words to the collaborators highlighting the ability to adapt to telework that all demonstrated, adapting our personal and family lives to our professional life, and the future of BIREME, projected through the impact of its activities in new countries with which we carry out projects, as well as different areas of interest with which we started to interact, where there are new actors that we must inform about BIREME and turn them into users of our products and services (P/S). The purpose of this expanded inclusion, ultimately, would be to enhance evidence-based decision-making (which BIREME supports through publication, selection, indexing, and making available) and that these actions translate into improving the health conditions of populations. Sebastián García believes that BIREME has made great strides during the last year in this direction through its P/S, and in mitigating challenges. To conclude, he thanked all employees and their families for their commitment and dedication in a year of many successes.

Next, Verônica Abdala highlighted the results of the SCI/PFI management throughout 2021, acknowledging and thanking her team for their dedication. She began by accounting for more than 60 meetings with members of the Virtual Health Library (VHL) and the Latin American and Caribbean Literature on Health Sciences (LILACS) networks, in which more than 4,000 participants were present. During this period, LILACS included more than 38,000 new records from 86 Cooperating Centers from 17 countries in the FI Admin system, in addition to ten databases migrated from the previous system (LILDBI) and ten new databases incorporated into the collection of information sources. The Reference Network, initially restricted to Brazil, was expanded to Latin America, which today has 127 members from 15 countries.

The VHL Maturity Instrument was implemented in 2021, the result of careful follow-up work. Twenty-five VHL instances applied the self-assessment instrument, which resulted in 39 instances evaluated in 161 follow-up meetings. Furthermore, in the past year, 11 national and thematic VHL portals were revised and reopened. Open educational resources continue to be implemented in 2021, with emphasis on the Leishmaniasis and Leprosy courses. Furthermore, the user care service was consolidated, and demands were centralized in this instrument.

The Windows of Knowledge and Evidence Maps, as methodologies for disseminating information and translating knowledge, respectively, reached a level of consolidation in 2021, to the point of potentially impacting health services in the region.

Vinícius Andrade, Interim Manager of MTI/AFI, then presented a summary of the main results of the area, not without first recognizing the work and efforts of his colleagues. Retrospectively, he highlighted the launch of the DeCS/MesH Finder in January, a very useful tool to automatically find the descriptors associated with a scientific text or an abstract in Portuguese, Spanish, English or French. Then, he spoke about Legisalud Argentina, the Health Legislation portal developed methodologically and technologically with the support of BIREME, which now integrates the VHL information sources.

EVID@easy, launched in March, was another innovative product that, through pre-designed search strategies, allows for finding scientific evidence available on the VHL. Vinicius mentioned the integration of the COVID-19 preprints from bioRxiv and medRxiv in the VHL, as well as the health preprints from the SciELO Preprints collection. In July, the new DeCS portal was launched with advances in navigability and easier and more intuitive search for descriptors. Another relevant release was version 2.0 of e-BlueInfo, an application for primary health care professionals that provides reliable and up-to-date information selected by experts from the Ministries of Health and educational and research institutions in the countries, in addition to including PAHO/WHO guidelines and scientific evidence available from the VHL information sources. The application has already been adopted by Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru and more recently, Paraguay. Colombia has completed the content inclusion steps but has not officially inaugurated the use of the tool. Then, there was the inauguration of the new DeCS portal, prior to the celebration of 35 years of the main controlled vocabulary for indexing and retrieving scientific and technical literature in health in the LA&C region. The Global Index Medicus (GIM) update operation integrates the activities of the MTI teams and constitutes an important cooperation project with the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Regional Offices.

Vinícius ended his presentation with the award granted by the American Library Association to the WHO for the WHO COVID-19 Research Database, developed and updated with the methodological support of BIREME (see article in this Bulletin). He thanked the MTI/AFI colleagues for the results and joint work, as well as all the Center’s colleagues.

Silvia de Valentin, Administration and Planning Manager at BIREME, gathered the Center’s results from the point of view of its Management into five main topics. The first one concerns the organizational change during 2022, which included the transfer of BIREME’s Board of Directors, which occurred in October, when Sebastián Garcia Saisó took over as Interim Director of BIREME, accumulating the functions of Director of the EIH Department. By accepting this task, Sebastián Garcia, already quite familiar with the BIREME operation and team during Diego González’s tenure, brought continuity and balance to the transition period, which is very important for BIREME at this time.

The second topic highlighted by Silvia refers to the strengthening of institutional relations with the main institutional supporters of BIREME, who contribute, in addition to financial resources, intellectual capital and sustainability to the operation of BIREME. He highlighted WHO through projects led by MTI, projects with countries such as Argentina, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and some technical areas of PAHO, in addition to the P/S offered to countries in the Region also through technical cooperation with the Ministry of the Health of Brazil. He also mentioned phase III of the agreement with the Municipal Health Department of São Paulo, and the agreements with the São Paulo Hospital/São Paulo Association for the Development of Medicine (HSP/SPDM, in their Portuguese acronyms), especially about the effort to establish actions of technical cooperation, in addition to the management of the Center’s human resources.

Another topic highlighted by Silvia was the implementation of the Biannual Work Plan (BWP) 2020-2021, whose operations are being closed in the next few days, with effective monitoring of contracts, finances, and internal controls. The approval of BWP 2022-2023 was also a reason for celebration, considering the teleworking situation, which has been in force since March 2020, and which has just been extended to March 31, 2022. The great challenge that remains in the next biennium is that of diversifying funding sources for BIREME. One of the strengths of BIREME’s management in 2021 was the operation of the Governance Committees, that is, the Advisory Committee and the Scientific Committee, through the year’s sessions, whose recommendations at a technical and managerial level are of great relevance and should guide the development of BIREME’s BWP in the next biennium.

Information technology infrastructure and building infrastructure activities were highlighted, even in teleworking, when the entire operation of BIREME could be maintained, through the functioning of its servers and effective service to internal and external users. By thanking all the employees of the GA team and BIREME, Silvia wished everyone Happy Holidays.

The virtual end-of-year celebration counted on Rogerio Cortes as a facilitator and who contributed the following text, in addition to the support of Jobar Farias and Maria José Zocatelli (both HR/GA).

Activity – Our photos, our stories

Before the pandemic, much was said about the digital revolution and everything the world was going through in terms of transformations. Acronyms like VUCA and BANE have become references for understanding the world. Speaking of volatility, instability, uncertainty, anxiety, complexity, fragility, these terms seemed to help make sense of what humanity has been going through.

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 intensified and, in most cases, consolidated the transformations that were taking place with digitalization. Emerging challenges and priorities in healthcare have imposed profound changes, and teleworking, e-commerce, telehealth, and others have moved forward with speed and irreversibly to a new format.

In this scenario, BIREME, in its mission to democratize access to scientific information in health, it is essential that its intellectual capital maintain improved behavioral skills, called soft skills, that involve, among others, teamwork, communication, interpersonal relationships, negotiation, and leadership, in addition to characteristics such as emotional intelligence, resilience, empathy, and trust.

The activity “Our photos, our stories” lasted around one hour and was intended to bring people closer, create greater complicity, improve communication between teams, identify the positive moments experienced in 2021, and think about what factors can contribute to making the most resilient and strong BIREME team. In addition, the aim was to foster trust and empathy among the participants and provide a pleasant and relaxed meeting.

To carry out the exercise, each employee was invited to bring a photo that would be used at the time of the meeting. To choose the photo, the following criteria were used: choose a moment of gratitude lived in 2021; and/or some fun event during the year; or, still, something that represented an overcoming in recent months. In smaller groups, people talked about the chosen photo and prepared a presentation, summarizing the main points discussed.

With emotion, truth and much poeticism, the subgroups revealed themes related to special situations with family members, sports practices and health care, important trips, achievements, and a gradual return to life, highlighting the dynamics of action and the values inherent to the BIREME/PAHO/WHO team.

In this atmosphere of joy and relaxation, BIREME once again celebrated a year of hard work and shared results, telework, coexistence, achievements, and learning.


Related news

BIREME recognizes the 2020 results at the end of the year meeting. BIREME Bulletin n° 51. Available at:


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