“The pandemic has come to put our civilizational model in check, exposing the vulnerability of Brazil and the world. It is an unthinkable challenge for my generation, and by far the most challenging period I’ve faced as a professional. My role is to coordinate the efforts of the power that is Fiocruz, the main institution of Science and Technology in Health in Latin America and to deal with this pandemic as a major multidimensional health and humanitarian crisis, which requires knowledge from all areas of science. As the first woman ever to be the president of Fiocruz, I face the challenge with an ambiguous feeling.
I have been striving to strengthen our Equity and Gender Committee around a number of issues, and I keep highlighting that women are the majority among our health workers and researchers, but a minority in management positions. May my position in the presidency serve not only as an example, but as an engine to reduce this inequity. And I speak of an ambiguous feeling because, in this moment of the pandemic, I see several colleagues on the front lines. It gives me pride, but on the other hand, this pandemic reveals a very gender unequal society, and this inequality is also expressed among health workers. I hope we can take this moment to shift that."
(Quote from an interview in November 2020, for the Brazilian National Confederation of Pharmacology)
Dr. Nísia Trindade Lima is President of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), the most important health institution in Brazil. A highly respected researcher, teacher and sociologist, she is the first woman to chair the institution in its 116-year history. As its leader, she was responsible for developing the emergency response to the surge of Zika virus in Brazil in 2016, creating the Fiocruz Network of Social Sciences and Zika, for studying and developing public policies relating to the human dimensions of the epidemic. Now, with the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil, Fiocruz response has been a beacon of hope within Brazilian complex political scenario, as the institution was responsible for leading the creation and distribution of the first testing kits to public hospitals and Health Centres in peripheral communities. Among other emergency plans, the institution signed, in the end of 2020, the contract that kicks off the construction of an Biotechnology Industrial Centre for the production of vaccines, which will be the biggest in Latin America.