Brazil’s Experts Share COVID-19 Pandemic Insights

Brazil coronavirus lab testing capabilities expanded in various states
brazilian doctor

Since June of 2020, a group of experts from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has traveled throughout Brazil to exchange experiences on coping with COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic. 

This group of PAHO professional’s mission includes getting to know the functioning of health units, such as hospitals, Basic Health Units (UBS), and laboratory services across Brazil in order to understand the work implemented in the states and municipalities.

As of September 21, 2020, four Brazilian states had already received the delegation of specialists from PAHO: Minas Gerais, Maranhão, Paraná, and Amazonas.

The coordinator of Surveillance, Preparedness, and Response to Emergencies and Disasters of PAHO and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Brazil, Maria Almiron, stated in a press release: “We are learning a lot from the states and municipalities visited, which have managed to face the COVID-19 pandemic even in the face of the challenges facing the countries of the Americas. Undoubtedly, this exchange of experiences will help managers make decisions and improve the health network.”

The head researcher and director of Fiocruz São Paulo, Rodrigo Stabeli, cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the greatest crisis of modern humanity and, therefore, its fight must necessarily pass through the exchange of experiences. 

“I have learned a lot from the relationship established in each state covered. Understanding the contrast between the health needs of Brazilian corners, whether in the North, Northeast, or even the Southeast, is working in a future centered on the population's care needs, increasingly strengthening public health.”

“And, in the face of humanity's greatest crisis, listening and exchanging experiences is absolutely necessary so that we can collectively build the health of the “new normal” safely and, above all, with united hands and committed to each other.”

Among the axes analyzed during visits to states and municipalities is the country's laboratory structure to face the pandemic. 

The PAHO's recommendations for countries in the Americas is to expand their laboratory capacity and use everything that is available at the national level; prioritize symptomatic patients, track contacts and monitor those who may be infected, and ensuring that everyone has access to tests so that access to them is free for patients.

These recommendations have been reinforced with states and municipalities, as testing the population provides a clearer view of where the virus is circulating and how many people have been infected to guide public health actions. 

Where testing needs to be improved, PAHO has guided and offered assistance in creating contact tracking plans, for example.

In the first half of 2020, the Brazilian Ministry of Health purchased, through PAHO's Strategic Fund, 10 million RT-PCR tests, which detect whether the person is infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

The purchase of these materials is made with resources from the Brazilian government via the PAHO Strategic Fund, an international purchasing mechanism created in 2000 to help countries and territories in the Americas have access to high-quality health supplies.

Finally, another topic analyzed in the missions is risk communication. 

In the missions already carried out, important strategies for handling disinformation and mechanisms to frequently inform the population were identified - through the use of social networks, regular press conferences, sound cars, among others -, in addition to points to be strengthened in regarding the form of disclosure.

The adoption of risk communication strategies and community engagement helps to prevent infodemias (an excessive amount of information about a problem, which makes it difficult to identify a solution), as well as to create confidence in actions to confront COVID-19 and increase the likelihood that health guidelines will be followed. 

This work also minimizes rumors and misunderstandings, preventing them from undermining responses and leading to further spread of the disease.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes international coronavirus pandemic news.