And the Oswaldo Cruz Medal goes to… who?



Bolsonaro insults the memory of Oswaldo Cruz, offends the nation and acts like a medieval autocrat. It is urgent to pass a law on decorations of the Republic

Dear Dr. oswaldo,

I was modestly preparing to send a celestial telegram greeting him on his birthday on the 5th of August, for after all it had been 149 years since that first cry in São Luiz do Paraitinga, in 1872. I was hesitant, as I did not want to overdo it. of your patience. It was then, Dr. Oswaldo, that I received two calls, both through the celestial telephone.

On the first call, it was my mother, who immediately said “Boy, leave Dr alone. Oswaldo Cruz! He has other things to do here in heaven, which is a place for eternal rest, not to solve these problems that you create there on earth”. I know that a mother is a mother, that we must always listen to them carefully and, once again, mine was absolutely right. I shouldn't abuse your patience with me, even though you were very receptive to my request. Letter to Oswaldo Cruz, from October last year, which I made public here on the site the earth is round.

But master, as the people here in Brazil are saying, “life is not easy for anyone!”. As soon as I hung up, the second call came.

This time it was the doctor Ciro de Quadros, Dr. Oswaldo, and he was very irritated. How, Dr. Oswaldo? For me to “explain to readers who it is”? Oh yes of course.

Ciro Carlos Araújo de Quadros (1940-2014) was the Rio Grande do Sul epidemiologist who, after helping the World Health Organization (WHO) organize the smallpox eradication campaign on a global scale in the 1970s, personally acting in the epidemiological work of Fielding for several years in Ethiopia, he devoted himself to polio control in the Americas, succeeding in the face of enormous difficulties, including armed conflict in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Peru. The Doctor. Akira Homma, scientific advisor at the Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos), at Fiocruz, account who, “in 2014, five weeks before his death, he was named 'Public Health Hero of the Americas' in recognition of his extraordinary services to Public Health worldwide”. The Doctor. Ciro de Quadros is a Brazilian of enormous prestige and international recognition, he taught at the Universities of Cleveland, George Washington, Berkeley and Harvard, among other American ones, he was a researcher at Fiocruz and, with his work at the Brazilian Ministry of Health, he contributed to creating the foundations of our National Immunization Program (PNI).

As Dr. Oswaldo? To talk about Zé Gotinha, say that he was “a kind of grandfather of Zé Gotinha”, and talk about the awards he received? Yes, well remembered, Dr. Oswaldo. There are indeed many people around here who have never heard of Ciro de Quadros, even though he has received many awards and decorations in different countries and has popularized what he used to call “a drop of life”, because the vaccine against poliomyelitis prevents the disease, avoiding pain, suffering and death. Unfortunately, Dr. Oswaldo, a lot of people don't know Ciro de Quadros, even sanitarians, who are professionally dedicated to public health. Yes, they also ignore it in the Ministry of Health. By the way, Dr. Oswaldo, mainly in the Ministry of Health. You need to see what they're doing there!

Going back to Ciro de Quadros' heavenly phone call, he was really irritated, as the news arrived that vaccination coverage against poliomyelitis, which reached 100% in 2009, had dropped to 66% in 2020. Worse, Dr. Oswaldo, he heard that last week the guy they put in the Presidency of the Republic decided to award the Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit to some of his ministers, advisors, chiefs of staff, ceremonial staff, the presidents of the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and Petrobrás(!) and his wife. “Did the President award the Medal to himself?”. No, Dr. Oswaldo, he didn't go that far, or maybe he forgot, you never know.

But despite the hiss in the audio, very common in these heavenly phone calls (when Minister Paulo Guedes arrives in heaven, he will certainly have Telecéu privatized, blaming the company for the noise… Guedes is the most clueless guy we have around here, Dr. Oswaldo), I could clearly hear that Dr. Ciro de Quadros wants to return the Medal he was given. He doesn't want, “by any means”, to be alongside these award-winning people in 2021. And then he, a guy normally so calm, with so much patience – it took a lot of calm and patience to carry on that work in Ethiopia.

I tried to reason with Dr. Ciro that it has been like this, that several presidents have conferred the distinction without taking into account the criteria foreseen in the regulation of the prize, but I don't know if he was convinced, no. “Who created this Medal”, Dr. Oswaldo? Well, this is a problem. The medal is one more item of the so-called “authoritarian debris” that passed through the 1988 Constituent Assembly without being revised. The objective of the decoration is “to reward national and foreign people who, in the field of scientific, educational, cultural and administrative activities related to hygiene and public health in general, have distinguished themselves in a notable or relevant way, and have contributed, directly or indirectly, for the physical and mental well-being of the Brazilian community”. The honor, created in 1970 by Decree No. 66.988, signed by President Emílio G. Médici, should have been granted by the Federative Republic of Brazil, but, in practice, it is granted exclusively by the Executive Power. The Minister of Health proposes and the Presidency's office takes care of the rest. And, as is known, the cabinet of the presidency of Jair Messias Bolsonaro is anti-democratic and anti-republican. It operates as if the president were D. João VI and, not without reason, there is talk around here of a “hate office”, as it is at the service not of the Republic, but of a negationist and autocratic representative. Yes, Dr. Oswaldo, he acts like “a medieval autocrat”.

Yes, Dr. Oswaldo, I agree that it is past time to overcome this residue of authoritarian rubble and pass a federal law stating that the Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit (and, if possible, all similar honors) is awarded by the Republic of Brazil and that the names of nominees are ratified in some way by the legislative and judicial powers. I don't know, Dr. Oswaldo, I don't know "why this hasn't been done yet and if the parliamentarians are overworked". I don't think it's too much work, no, because just recently I found out that Aécio Neves (PSDB) – remember him? – presented a bill in the Chamber of Deputies for the municipality of Lagoa Dourada (MG) to be considered the national capital of rocambole. Meanwhile, the President, without listening to the Nation or the other powers of the Republic, decorates his own wife and the ceremonial people. It is difficult to believe that they provided relevant services to public health. Yes, Dr. Oswaldo, I will say this, that “it is urgent to pass a law on decorations of the Republic” to contain the action of “despots”. Why does my smile, Dr. Oswaldo? It's just that I haven't heard anyone use the word "despot" for a long time.

No, Dr. Oswaldo, no Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit for Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, the scientist from Bahia who coordinated the team that sequenced the genome of SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus.

No, Dr. Oswaldo, no Oswaldo Cruz Merit Medal for Dr. Dimas Caves, the director of the Butantan Institute, attacked for putting the institution he directs at the service of confronting the covid-19 pandemic and defending the coronavac, qualified pejoratively as “vachina”.

No, Dr. Oswaldo, no Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit for the teacher Peter Hallal, epidemiologist, former dean of the Federal University of Pelotas (2017-20), coordinator of the interrupted research on covid-19 and who, censored and humiliated by the federal government, was forced to sign a Conduct Adjustment Term.

No, Dr. Oswaldo, no Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit for the Rio nurse Lidiane Melo who, filling two surgical gloves with hot water, created the “little hand technique” and thus managed to comfort patients with covid-19 in the ICU.

No, Dr. Oswaldo, no Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit for the pulmonologist from Espírito Santo, and Fiocruz researcher, Margaret Dalcolmo, who since the first days of the pandemic, dedicated his time to clarifying public opinion about the disease and how to face it, when there were still no vaccines and after they appeared, separating the wheat from the chaff, denialism and beliefs about knowledge scientific.

Yes, Dr. Oswaldo, in addition to the group from Palácio do Planalto, Praça dos Três Poderes and Esplanada dos Ministérios, two health professionals were awarded the Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit, but unfortunately, I have no information about their actions in facing the pandemic .

Yes, Dr. Oswaldo, of course I know that nobody asked you anything, if you approve, if you “wanted or did not want these names” for your Medal.

But it's just that these people are not very good at dialoguing, no. They keep doing it and, if anyone does not agree, they “arrest and break up”, as that other general-president, João Figueiredo, used to say. When they created the Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit, they thought that by giving it their name they were honoring him.

He no longer wants his “name on the Medal”, Dr. Oswaldo, don't you agree with “these medals without criteria”? Want to “take your name off the prize”? Well, I don't think this is going to work, no. “You have to take it off,” Dr. Oswaldo, are you going to “talk to President Rodrigues Alves”? That's not how it works these days, Dr. Oswaldo. Maybe it's worth talking to Rui Barbosa there in heaven, and asking him to call some colleagues from the OAB or those who are in the National Congress. It will work better. Still “not talking to Rui Barbosa”? Well, then you'll have to try another way. Who knows, maybe Tancredo Neves is worth a try? Maybe he talks to Aécio?

Calm down, Dr. Oswaldo, calm down...

All right, all right, all right, Dr. Oswaldo, let's not argue about this.

I have another proposal; see what you think.

How about if, instead of removing your name from the Oswaldo Cruz Medal of Merit, we call on the people to remove Jair Messias from the Presidency of the Republic?

"It's a good idea"? Well then, agreed: let's call the staff.

As Dr. Oswaldo? Did Cesar Lattes tell you that "he is also trying to remove his name from that resume platform"?

Well, in that case, it's better to speed up this process of removing Jair Messias from the presidency of the Republic, otherwise everything will fall apart at an even faster pace.

“Acceleration of what?” doctor Oswaldo? No no; nothing no. I was just here thinking to myself.

*Paulo Capel Narvai is Senior Professor of Public Health at USP.


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