Trying to ignore the fact that the country has one of the highest numbers of deaths in the world from covid-19, the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, arrived this weekend in Geneva to deliver a speech that the government of Jair Bolsonaro got right. in the fight against the pandemic, that vaccination reaches high rates and that it values universal health services.
In an effort to undo the image of denialist, Queiroga participates in the World Health Assembly that begins this Sunday with the aim of presenting Brazil as a kind of example in some of the responses to the crisis. The participation takes place at the same time that, coinciding with the beginning of the electoral campaign, the Bolsonaro government decrees the end of the health emergency, something that the WHO contests.
His speech is scheduled to take place on Monday morning. According to members of the Ministry of Health itself, the minister carries with him a speech that, at least in a first version, bordered on boasting in reinforcing the results of the vaccination rate and other measures adopted by the country.
According to sources who had access to the document, a preliminary version ignored the delay in starting immunization, the behavior of President Jair Bolsonaro to promote agglomerations, criticism against WHO recommendations, the millionaire purchase of medicines that had proven not to work and mainly the fact that Brazil has one of the highest numbers of deaths from covid-19 in the world — is only surpassed by the United States.
Starting this weekend, ministers and heads of government from around the world will meet again for the first time in person at the WHO (World Health Organization). One of the goals is to start building the new architecture of health diplomacy and new instruments so that a new pandemic does not catch the world off guard.
Contacted on two occasions, the Ministry of Health did not say what Queiroga’s agenda will be in Switzerland. The Itamaraty also kept silent. The column found, however, that he will have bilateral meetings with some countries, participate in events on Sunday and Monday, and then continue his trip to the Davos Economic Forum.
Queiroga, however, will arrive with a speech of appreciation for the SUS, while the government wants to take advantage of the fact that it has become a vaccine donor to insist that Brazil is also part of the solution.
If Queiroga hopes to “normalize” Brazil’s relationship with the global health sector, the order among foreign governments is to treat the current Brazilian administration with a mixture of caution and coldness. “We are in dialogue with Brazil, but we are already looking at what could be the end of a government,” admitted a negotiator from an important European country. On condition of anonymity, she acknowledges that there is widespread “relief” at the risk that Bolsonaro will not win a second term.
In the corridors of the WHO, critical comments to the Brazilian government still echo, which, at the height of the pandemic crisis, chose to ignore the recommendations of science.
At the agency’s summit, the name of the Brazilian president was followed by the word “crazy”, while technicians did not understand how a country with experience in health issues, high-quality specialists and a solid network of care succumbed in such a profound way to the virus. “Where are you?”, questioned one of the main operators of the WHO response, amid the accumulating deaths.
Steve Levitsky, professor at Harvard University and author of the bestseller “How Democracies Die”, points out that Bolsonaro chose to copy Donald Trump even in policies that failed.