The pandemic brought an opportunity to expand ChagasLeish in two movements: Virtual Workshops and Satellite Meeting

Publicação: 7 de June de 2021

Hosting the event in two moments will strongly enhance result achievement

Virtual environment opens the opportunity for participation without the need for displacement, which expands the reach of initiatives

In 2020 no one imagined what was coming, but we had the hope that in 2021 things could be better. Everyone expected and everyone believed. But instead, we are going through the worst moment of the pandemic in Brazil and we want everyone to be safe. For this reason, the 2021 Annual Meeting of Applied Research in Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis (ChagasLeish) will be divided into two moments: The Virtual Meeting with the realization of workshops, broadcasted online, on August 13th and 14th, and the Satellite Meeting of the 56th Congress of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (MEDTROP Play 2021), which will take place between October 25th and 28th.

Dr. Luciana de Almeida Silva Teixeira, associate professor of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases at the Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro (UFTM) and coordinator of the ChagasLeish 2021 Virtual Workshops, explains that the pandemic brought the challenge of transforming the idealization of a face-to-face meeting into an adaptation to virtual reality. According to her, a very emphasized aspect in the last ChagasLeish, which took place during MEDTROP 2019, in Belo Horizonte, was the importance of strengthening the interrelationship between researchers and health services. “In an event of the magnitude of MEDTROP, with lectures, round tables, conferences, presentations of works, among others, the focus on the classic workshops of the ChagasLeish meetings was less evident”, she emphasizes.

In this sense, according to Dr. Teixeira, the pandemic also brought an opportunity to expand ChagasLeish to two movements: the first with the ChagasLeish 2021 Virtual Workshops, under her coordination, together with the General Coordination of Surveillance of Zoonoses and Vector Transmission Diseases of the Health Surveillance Secretariat (SVS) of the Ministry of Health; and the second with ChagasLeish, the 2021 MEDTROP Play satellite meeting, under the coordination of professors Ana Yecê Pinto and Fernando Silveira, both from the MEDTROP Play headquarters group.

The virtual workshops will address the main themes in Chagas’ disease and Leishmaniasis, aiming to broaden the debate and seeking solutions for effective control, diagnosis and treatment of these endemic diseases. Renowned researchers, health professionals, representatives of the Ministry of Health and State and Municipal Health Services in Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis will join the event. For the occasion, moments of explanation were foreseen with the participation of these big names, as well as the formation of work groups that will be distributed in independent virtual environments, providing greater integration among the participants.

Dr. Luciana says that everyone is very involved in the preparations to make the most of the synchronous meeting time in a virtual environment. “For the Virtual Workshops, a preparatory meeting was held on May 14th which was attended by representatives of services from all Brazilian states and the Federal District. Through the dialogue between researchers, representatives of the SVS and the services, it was possible to outline the theme of the Virtual Workshops that will take place in August. Based on this interaction, we achieved the interrelated focus between Research, Technology and Service in the search for solutions for the control of endemic diseases”, details the coordinator of the virtual workshops, remembering that the virtual environment brings challenges, but at the same time, opens the opportunity to participate without the need for displacement, which expands the scope of our initiatives.

Preparations are also advancing for ChagasLeish, a satellite meeting at MEDTROP Play 2021, with pre-congress courses and complementary roundtable activities in the same idea of research and service alongside. “In this sense, 12 different activities of the workshops are being prepared, with provision for 4 round tables, 6 mini-conferences and 4 mini-courses, divided between the two diseases. And also, the possibility of presenting scientific papers in verbal or E-poster modes”, celebrates Dr. Teixeira.

ChagasLeish represents a traditional Brazilian scientific event that seeks to respond to demands in the Unified Health System (SUS) based on Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis control programs. Under the responsibility of the SBMT, it brings together researchers, professors and students from different areas of knowledge that cut across the ways of recognizing the importance of these diseases as well as the strategies for coping with them. In addition, it has involved health managers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as interested people, including people affected by these diseases. In these meetings, aspects inherent to different perspectives of elements of the environment, vectors, reservoirs and accidental hosts are discussed, with emphasis on the human being.

This event has become a reference in the Brazilian calendar, with a history of more than 20 years, starting in 1984 when the 1st Meeting on Applied Research in Chagas Disease was held, which included exclusively topics related to Chagas disease. Twelve years later, in 1996, the issues specific to Leishmaniasis were integrated due to the growing epidemiological relevance in the Brazilian and global contexts, especially in urban spaces. The meetings seek to enhance the technical-scientific exchange between researchers from different fields of knowledge and from different countries, but necessarily integrating, as an applied meeting, health professionals, university professors, students (undergraduate and graduate students), health managers, technicians control programs and social movements.

“We have a very positive expectation for the two movements of ChagasLeish. For the Virtual Workshops in August, we already have 45 confirmed guests and the pre-registration of more than 800 interested parties. In the 2nd Movement, the intention is to continue the legacy of the traditional ChagasLeish meetings, which since its beginnings serve as an unparalleled environment for the exchange of knowledge and scientific experiences between researchers and students interested in relevant and current themes aimed at understanding and coping with Chagas’ disease and Leishmaniasis. We believe that it will be one of the major highlights in the 2021 MEDTROP Play”, points out Dr. Teixeira.

With the insertion of critical-reflective debates, these meetings have enabled the formation of networks and greater exchange of knowledge regarding epidemiological scenarios of these diseases and their transmission dynamics, encompassing the diversity inherent to infected people and those at risk of infection, parasites (diversity), vectors (native or not) and reservoirs, in search of consistent actions aimed at management, surveillance, control, comprehensive health care, prevention, rehabilitation, empowerment, education, communication, social participation, as well as research development of different natures with a focus on Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis. It therefore represents a strategic and unique space for the composition of agendas for the country.

Finally, the coordinator of the virtual workshops highlights that ChagasLeish intends to increase the dialogue between the scientific community and the Ministry of Health’s secretariats for surveillance on Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis; promote technical-scientific exchange between health professionals and researchers in the areas of basic and applied research in epidemiology, physiology, immunology, parasitology, genetics, pathology and biology, seeking new strategies for control, prophylaxis, treatment and clinical management in Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis; as well as bringing together professionals in the areas of strategic technological development such as molecular medicine, robotics, engineering, pharmacology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, information technology, among others, to professionals in the basic and applied areas, seeking a practical perspective of interaction in the solution of clinical problems and social problems arising from these endemic diseases. In addition, according to Dr. Teixeira, ChagasLeish favors the qualified training of professionals and students in the most diverse areas of these diseases and promotes updating in strategic areas of basic and clinical research, as well as technology areas, essential for professionals who work directly in these areas. “For this reason, we believe that holding the event in two moments will be good to enhance the achievement of the results intended with these objectives”, she concludes.

In addition to ChagasLeish, the following are also planned: Entomol8, VIII National Workshop of REDE-TB (Brazilian Network for Research on Tuberculosis), National Meeting on Research on Malaria, 4th Brazilian Social Forum on Confronting Infectious and Neglected Diseases and the COVID-19 Forum. Participation in satellite events, which took place simultaneously with the Congress of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine, expands the participation of the audience and enables the integration of groups. They represented an excellent opportunity for participants to exchange their expertise, discuss possible partnerships in other areas and in collaborative projects. Among the activities of MEDTROP PLAY, 16 pre-congress courses, 24 conferences, 48 mini-courses, 72 round tables and the presentation of open themes and E-posters are planned.