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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X

Rev. bras. epidemiol. vol.7 n.1 São Paulo Mar. 2004 

Special editorial



Ana Bernarda Ludermir

President of the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology; Adjunct Professor of UFPE's Social Medicine Department - CCS



With the motto "Looking Out Over the City", the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology will be held from June 19 through 23, 2004, in Recife's Convention Center. There will be a pre-congress on June 19 and 20, with some 23 courses and 11 workshops being held concomitantly. The congress itself will take place on the three following days, with conferences, panels, round tables, and coordinated releases. The Congress will also hold IEA's 6th Scientific Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The theme of the event will basically include three sub-themes:

• Epidemiology and the City;

• The Fragmented City: Inclusion, Segregation and Social Exclusion;

• The City and Quality of Life

Although the relationship between epidemiology and cities is the highlight of the event, all the wealth of the research and work of professionals should be addressed. Other assumptions that have driven the organization of the congress are geographical diversity, seeking greater representativity of the scientific production of the many Brazilian regions / states; the balance between spontaneous demand and induction, including the requests to research groups to produce studies on specific themes; multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinarity, favoring the dialog between epidemiology and other sciences and practices in addressing the central theme of the Congress; and the integration of education, research and services, including every aspect of the process of epidemiological work.

In addition to being the motto of the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology, "Looking Out Over the City" is a posthumous tribute to Dom Hélder Câmara (1909–1999), Archbishop Emeritus of Olinda and Recife. His was a fearless voice denouncing to the world the repression of the Brazilian military regime, an outstanding example in the fight for freedom, peace and social justice, and against poverty and oppression. While Brazil was under censorship, his voice was only heard inside Churches or on his radio program "Looking Out Over the City", aired by Rádio Olinda. Moreover, it is also the title of one of his books, released by Civilização Brasileira publishers. The richness of his metaphors served to reinforce the hope that "the darker the night, the closer we are to the dawn".

The Congress intends to focus on cities from the epidemiological perspective. The city, by its very nature, is an object that has always attracted a disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary gaze.

The object of epidemiology, sick people in populations, takes on a special configuration in cities, and for that reason, it induces the production of new explanations for the health-disease process, providing supporting support to heads and managers of services to design policies and actions based on actual conditions, in order to solve problems.

More than three thousand eight hundred papers have been registered, but participation in the congress does not depend on the presentation of papers.

It is not only epidemiologists and public health professionals who will feel honored by your participation in the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology, but the entire population of Recife, because it is a multicultural city that since its founding has welcomed the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English, and the French, as well as native Indians, African-born backs, and Jews... The physician and geographer Josué de Castro used to compare Recife to Amsterdam and Venice, referring to it as an amphibian city, "with its different neighborhoods, seen from the air, floating forgotten on the surface of its waters". The poet Carlos Pena Filho saw Recife as a city "half stolen from the sea / half stolen from the imagination". Recife with its bridges, necessary for interconnection and communication, is pure poetry: Manuel Bandeira and João Cabral de Melo Neto.

Like Carlos Pena Filho, we believe that "a city invents itself from men's dreams", and the Organizing Committee of the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology proposes, from the epidemiological standpoint, to dream of a new healthier, fairer city model. The "Land Without Evil" of the Guarani and Tupinambá Indians, the black slaves' "Quilombo (or runaway slave community of) Palmares", "Plato's Republic", Campanella's "City of the Sun", Thomas More's "Utopia"... what do these utopias have in common? They all seek one Good: health. In this new millennium, what else can we invent? We give the floor to the epidemiologists who will gather in Recife, in June 2004.