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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X

Rev. bras. epidemiol. vol.7 n.2 São Paulo Jun. 2004 



6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology
"Looking Out Over the City"



Fourteen years, from Carlos Gomes to Manuel Bandeira


Campinas (1990) and Recife (2004), the sites of Abrasco's first and sixth congresses of epidemiology, mark a path that fills us with understandable pride. We did not follow a straight route during these fourteen years: the Congress went up, through Belo Horizonte, to Salvador, but took a detour to Rio de Janeiro and to Curitiba before reaching "Estação Recife" (Recife Station), how the President of the 6th Congress, Ana Bernarda Ludermir, prefers to call it. During this period, two Master Plans for the Development of Epidemiology in Brazil were prepared (2nd and 3rd). Halfway through (1998), the Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia (RBE) was created and it published Plan III in its 3(1-3) issue in December 2000.

As the well-known operational definition of a consolidated (or "mature") scientific discipline, it has some essential elements, such as an object, a discourse and a method, both at the theoretical and epistemological levels. It also has a set of undergraduate, specialization and graduate courses in the field of academic acknowledgement, to consolidate and preserve its ideas; and a Scientific Association (Abrasco, in our case) that publishes a journal and promotes a regular congress, to communicate its production and open channels for debate.

Now, in 2004, we are witnessing the consolidation of the Revista and of the Congresses. The Revista has been "on time" since it became quarterly, with volume 6, last year. It is publishing the present issue 7(2) within the month printed on its cover, June, and it will be made available during the 6th Congress, by the Capibaribe River. This 6th Congress is proof of the vitality and regular action of Abrasco's Epidemiology Committee and of the correct choice of those responsible for the subsequent accomplishments, always Institutional Members of Abrasco.

During the 4th Congress, in Rio de Janeiro, in the year of its foundation, the Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia began to play the role it was meant for in the above-mentioned operational definition. It considered the Congress as a major source of original studies and contributed to their promotion, reaching a reading public that was interested in the paths of Brazilian epidemiology but that could not attend the Congress. It published a series of major contributions presented at EpiRio, especially the magnum conferences. Without undervaluing the remainder, it received an original and unpublished text from Richard Doll, one of the icons of the 20th century's world Epidemiology, reviewing the major contributions of Epidemiology "in the past 50 years".

On the 5th Congress, in Curitiba, a special issue of the Revista contained the abstracts of the studies presented, and a Supplement released in December 2002 had the complete contributions from Conferences and Round Tables. A special request made to Congress participants increased the flow of studies sent for peer review through the continuous flow system. It was undoubtedly the response of the members of the "Brazilian epidemiological community" that allowed the Revista to put itself "on time", collecting the relevant production in the area in Brazil.

For the 6th Congress, the number of abstracts sent exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. The Board of Abrasco, the Epidemiology Committee, and the Organizing and Scientific Committees of the 6th Congress, joined the Editors of RBE to analyze the best solution for the problem of publishing a difficult-to-handle oversized special issue. We decided that the Special Issue would only come out in an "electronic version", in a CD-ROM distributed to Congress participants and, afterwards, would be available at the Abrasco/RBE site, and in other publicly accessible electronic media. In this manner, bibliographical citation as a publication in the abstracts of a "scientific journal" is guaranteed, referring to the CD-ROM and remaining means of electronic access.

In the current regular issue of RBE, launched during the 6th Congress, the Editors briefly describe the major facts of each one of the five previous congresses. By using speeches that translate the ideas prevalent at the various moments, we have reproduced the Presentations inserted into the Programs and/or Annals of the first four congresses. Again, we have also published the Introduction of RBE's Special Issue, which includes the abstracts of the papers presented at the 5th Congress, in Curitiba. It is not by mere chance that all authors, who presided the congress, are members of the Board of Editors of the Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia: Marilisa Berti de Azevedo Barros, 1st Congress, "Epidemiology and social inequality: the challenges of the end of the century", September 1990, Campinas; Maria Fernanda Furtado de Lima e Costa, 2nd Congress, "Quality of life: the historical commitment of Epidemiology", July 1992, Belo Horizonte; Maurício Lima Barreto, 3rd Congress (Epid 95), "Epidemiology in the pursuit of equity in Health", April 1995, Salvador; Sérgio Koifman, 4th Congress (Epirio 98), "Epidemiology in perspective: new times, people and places", August 1998, Rio de Janeiro; Moisés Goldbaum, 5th Congress (Epi 2002), "Epidemiology in the promotion of health", March 2002, Curitiba.

Authored by the President of the 6th Congress, Ana Bernarda Ludermir, we are now publishing the Editorial of RBE's March 2004 Special Issue 7(1) again and we have reprinted the Introduction of Recife's Congress Program Book, "Welcome to Recife: Brazilian as my grandfather's house".

Partial analyses on the six Congresses can be found in these Introductions and in Abrasco's Newsletters published immediately after each one of them. Particularly, the Annals of the 2nd Congress ("Quality of life and the commitment of Epidemiology", organized by Maria Fernanda Lima e Costa and Rômulo Paes de Souza. Belo Horizonte: COOPMED Editora, ABRASCO, 1994) have a chapter that assesses the studies presented at the two first Congresses. Authored by M.S.L. Souza et al, this chapter was summarized in Abrasco's # 47newsletter of July/September 1992. Also Abrasco's # 57 Special Newsletter of July 1995, published the evaluation performed through interviews, of Epid 95, outlining a profile of the "typical participant of the event", along with opinions about content, organization and the courses offered at the Congress.

We should not fail to mention the number of papers presented at each of the Congresses, which gives us an idea of the size of the events. These issues, and in some cases their division per geographical or institutional origin of the authors, thematic and methodological lines, call for a more formal approach. It is a challenge we present to the community of Brazilian epidemiologists.

Neither should we fail to give the due credits to the presidents of Abrasco, in whose offices Congresses were held. José da Silva Guedes (1st, Campinas); Arlindo Fábio Gómez de Sousa (2nd, Belo Horizonte); Maria Cecília de Souza Minayo (3rd, Salvador); Rita Barradas Barata (4th, Rio de Janeiro); José Carvalho de Noronha (5th, Curitiba); Moisés Goldbaum (6th, Recife). They, and especially the Executive Secretaries and their Assistants should be given credit for the main merits of these Congresses. The former were assigned the task of "political" contacts to ensure funding sources, an indicator of the prestige of Abrasco and its Congresses. However, the Executive Secretaries are the ones with the insane craftsmanship work of Congresses; they are the ones who, in fact, make Congresses "happen". We would like to close this very brief note expressing our gratitude to these fearless warriors: the former Paulo Marchiori Buss, Péricles Silveira da Costa and João Carlos Canossa Mendes; and the current Álvaro Hideyoshi Matida and Mônia Mariani. To them our tribute, to be shared with the outstanding support team of the Executive Secretariat.

In the case of RBE, we must also acknowledge the merit of the Board of Editors, particularly the Associate Editors, for the critical role they have played in the peer revision process, and peer reviews themselves for their always kind contribution to the success of RBE. We cannot fail to thank guest Editors, invited for special issues and to everyone who, even without credits printed on the cover, have played the role of Associate Editors. RBE's support team, performed by its own executive secretaries, deserves a highlight: the persons responsible for its implementation, Maria Luiza Hernandes, and today's Marina França Lopes and Rita de Andréa Gomes; in addition to language reviewers (Portuguese and English), standardizers, and those in charge of graphic design.

Surely, when we pay all these tributes, we are speaking on behalf of Brazilian epidemiology.

We wish you all a good 6th Congress.


José da Rocha Carvalheiro



6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology


Ana Bernarda Ludermir

President of the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology; Adjunct Professor of UFPE's Social Medicine Department - CCS. Av. Prof. Moraes Rego, s/n - Cidade Universitária 50670-901 Recife/PE;


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.




Welcome to Recife: Brazilian of as my grandfather's house


In 1694, the Tratado Único da Constituição Pestilencial de Pernambuco (Single Treaty on the Pestilential Constitution of Pernambuco) was published in Lisbon, and is regarded by Prof. Guilherme Rodrigues da Silva as our first work of epidemiology. Written by João Ferreira da Rosa, the objective was to study the `epidemic of ailments', more precisely urban yellow fever, which, in the second half of the 17th century, according to Gilberto Freyre, "threatened to destroy the sugar civilization of the Brazilian Northeast".

More than three centuries later, collective health professionals, particularly epidemiologists, will gather in Recife, from June 19 to 23, 2004, during the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology, promoted by the Brazilian Association of Post-Graduation in Collective Health–Abrasco, to discuss the "old" and "new" ailments that trouble Brazil and the World.

Campinas (SP), Belo Horizonte (MG), Rio (RJ), Salvador (BA), Curitiba (PR). Thirteen years have gone by. A gathering of health services researchers, teachers, students and technicians; an experimental space for mixtures, intersections, and complex syntheses: theory and method; explanation and understanding; quantitative and qualitative; unique, single and universal; everyday life and universality; clinical and epidemiological; chaos and organization; micro and macro; social and biological; efficient cause and structural cause; surveillance and citizenship; genes and risk factors; epidemiology congresses are one of the most important initiatives of the Brazilian scientific community. They contemplate the many thought trends and debate the latest theoretical methodological developments in epidemiology.

Between April 26 and 29, 1994, the seminar "The Development of Brazilian Epidemiology: national meeting for evaluation and prospects", was held in Olinda by Abrasco's Epidemiology Commission. In this very year, from June 19 to 23, almost 4,000 people took part in the 4th Brazilian Congress on Collective Health, held in Recife, promoted by Abrasco, the Collective Health Study Center - CPqAM-FIOCRUZ and the Government of Pernambuco.

Those two very successful events, held in sister cities, left landmarks that translated into documents like the II Master Plan for the Development of Epidemiology in Brazil (1995-1999).

Ten years later, Recife Station will be visited again during the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology and the 6th IEA Scientific Meeting of Latin America and the Caribbean. Numbers have exceeded forecasts: over 3,800 abstracts have been submitted and assessed by 215 experts throughout the country. Round tables, coordinated communication sessions and panels, lectures, colloquiums and conferences will debate current themes in the area of epidemiology. On the other hand, the epidemiologic object has also been recorded in printed posters and in images (video tapes and for the first time, in photography).

Epidemiologists have laid eyes on a unique landscape–the City, to scrutinize differences and inequalities in the processes of becoming ill and dying. The plotted city shows the homes of those included and excluded from development.

We hope these eyes also leave marks, like in previous events: new bridges, new revelations, new technologies.

Finally, we wish all participants may share the feeling of poets Manuel Bandeira: "Recife, Brazilian as my grandfather's house" and João Cabral de Melo Neto, when talking about the Capibaribe river: "People from the city / on the other side of Recife / have a friend in me, / their closest companion".

Best wishes from a Pernambuco native and have a good Congress.


Ana Bernarda Ludermir
President of the 6th Brazilian Congress of Epidemiology