SBMT Newsletter celebrates 10 years

Publicação: 6 de August de 2021

Over the years, the SBMT newsletter has sought conceptual transformation by bringing to the center of the discussion the problems that occur in the Tropics

The SBMT Newsletter started discussions involving topics such as violence, traffic accidents, in particular by motorcycles, slums, pollution, among others

Carlos H N Costa
Editor of the SBMT Newsletter and deputy editor of the Journal of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine

This month, we celebrate ten years of the SBMT Newsletter. A decade! It is an important milestone of hard work towards scientific dissemination and dissemination of knowledge in Tropical Medicine. The work begins with the mining and selection of subjects, followed by the study of the theme to prepare the articles and with the tracking of sources and interviewees, invitations, preparation of interviews, translation from Portuguese to English and vice versa and, finally, electronic edition and delivery to subscribers. Our deep gratitude to our journalist Denise de Quadros, our electronic editor Leandro de Matos, our translator Pedro Costa and our associate editors.

The Newsletter evolved quickly. Its first edition came out in August 2011 and soon created a new layout. Issue 09, from April 2012, arrived with a more modern graphic design. As of issue 11, in addition to the new layout, it also became bilingual (in Portuguese) and (in English), and the website has adopted the English language. The choice of the two languages in the Newsletter aimed to bring professionals and researchers in the large area of health from all over the world closer together around the topic of Tropical Medicine and to overcome the limitations of the Portuguese language. And the changes didn’t stop there. Issue 83, of June 2018 (in Portuguese) and (in English), arrived with a new designer. The new project, very clean and elegant, sought to highlight one of the most precious values of a communication vehicle: objectivity. The new proposal brought an innovative layout that sought to attract the reader. The new layout and functionality attributes are also now perfectly suited to mobile device sizes. Always in its process of seeking excellence in quality, the change demonstrated SBMT’s ability to remain current and in tune with the demands of society and its audience. All the changes reinforce the need to expand the current concept of Tropical Medicine and highlight the SBMT’s objective of assuming a central role in the Tropics and as a protagonist in promoting the well-being of tropical peoples.

During these ten years, some matters had great relevance due to the opportunity. The interviews with the two 2020 Nobel Prize winners in Medicine for the discovery and development of the CRISPR technology, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna (in Portuguese) and (in English) and the interview with Alexandra Elbakyan, creator of the Sci-Hub website that has dramatically allowed access to science by thousands of scientists, professionals and students (in Portuguese) and (in English), also published in 2020. Alexandra, still young, is already one more Nobel Prize deserving. In September 2016, right after the Olympic Games in Brazil, the SBMT Newsletter unveiled the falsehood of an article widely spread around the world, in which the famous British TV presenter Charlie Webster reportedly had malaria on a bicycle ride from Recife to Rio de Janeiro, a region where there is no malaria (in Portuguese) and (in English). Another article published in the SBMT newsletter in 2012 is cited by Nasdaq, the second largest stock market in the world, after the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq is an international reference in the economic area. As a parameter in the area of tropical diseases, the stock market listed the comment of the president of SBMT, at the time, Dr. Mitermayer Galvão dos Reis, among the quotes for an article about the progress of the production of a vaccine against dengue that could move billions of dollars.

Other articles in the Newsletter had exceptional repercussion, reaching a large audience. One of them, about dengue, is the second to appear on the Google list when searching for “dengue in the world”. Also worthy of mention are those that had the greatest reach. One was about the anti-vaccine movement, published in April 2019, it had a record 85,105 hits. Another, published at the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, showed that we had many more questions than answers about COVID-19 reached 53 thousand hits. Also worthy of mention are the publication on the enormous damage caused by traffic accidents, one of the most important topics for the Newsletter, which totaled 22,283 hits, and another about the infectologist’s day, with 16.898 hits.

The Newsletter is not important by itself. Like the major global scientific journals, such as Science, Nature, PLoS, among others, it has an electronic communication network that supports the Tropical Medicine theme, the SBMT and, particularly, the SBMT Journal. This electronic communication network is made up of the website (in Portuguese) and (in English), by the Newsletter , through the SBMT Journal hotsite, and through accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The most visited electronic media is the website, not only because it is continuous and brings information about the SBMT and other important topics in Tropical Medicine, but, above all, because it is fed so much by the news generated and broadcast by the SBMT Newsletter. Some numbers demonstrate the strength of the website’s interaction with the Newsletter. In one year, from May 2012 to May 2013, the newsletter recorded over 33 thousand visits to the website (2,750 monthly readers, approximately), with a daily peak of access on May 15th, 2013, when it registered 292 visits. This was an increase of almost 60% compared to the same period of the previous year (05/2011 to 05/2012), when the site registered just over 21 thousand visits (1,750 visits per month).

The Newsletter’s influence on SBMT’s electronic media. SBMT Journal went from a JCR/Clarivate impact factor, from 1,339 to 1,581 certainly with help from the Newsletter. The website has become increasingly evident recently, taking the website to very significant numbers internationally; today the website has about 38,000 hits and has around 200 thousand pages opened per month, a number of visits 22 times higher than it was at its beginning, before the Newsletter. This, in turn, is sent by around 13,000 scientists, professionals and journalists and is opened by about 10% of those who are in charge of multiplying it. The impact of SBMT’s electronic communication network can be seen in the Facebook account access numbers. It is the second most visited in the world among non-governmental organizations dedicated to Tropical Medicine. On July 27th, 2021, it had 32,118 followers, compared to 36,979 for the American Society of Tropical Medicine and 3,123 for the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine. The Newsletter’s audience amplifies the information and impact of the news produced by SBMT. While Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are mainly aimed at lay people, the hotsite of the Journal of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine is dedicated to disseminating scientific articles, with its own electronic newsletter. All together, in a network, they serve, thus, to support the theme, the SBMT and its main body, the Journal of the SBMT, which formally publishes scientific articles. Although mostly read in Brazil, SBMT’s media reach the whole world, with hundreds of readers in other Portuguese-speaking countries; they are also widely consulted by the Latin American, North American, European and Asian public.

This set of means of communication allows the SBMT to fulfill its role of disseminating knowledge in Tropical Medicine, in defense of the interests of tropical peoples, whose countries are still developing and are the poorest (except for the island of Singapore). As Jared Diamond and Daron Acemoglu said, this distribution of wealth does not occur by chance. The poverty of the tropics is not due to its people, who cannot be seen as inherently, racially, genetically less competent for economic and civilizing development. It does have historical-geographic roots, mainly through weapons, the destruction and exploitation of the original peoples by those who subjected them to force, and also through the extractive production mode imposed by the metropolises, colonizing empires and economic hegemonies. In this way, the relative poverty of the Tropics is not irreversible and can be overcome. Science is one of the most important instruments for overcoming poverty and achieving development. Brazil, due to its immensity, its great cultural expression and reasonable scientific production, plays an important role in terms of self-identity and the common values of tropical peoples. The SBMT is, without a doubt, one of the most prominent voices of interests of tropical peoples and the only scientific organization to declare itself on behalf of the Tropics for the Tropics. In this sense, the Newsletter has been a voice of the Tropics and the voice of the SBMT.