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Readout of Secretary Azar’s First Day in Brazil

As previously announced, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar traveled to Brazil over the weekend to participate in bilateral meetings with government officials and others to discuss the ongoing collaboration between the United States and Brazil towards global health security, our bilateral science partnership, and health sector reform. Later in the week, Secretary Azar will travel to Argentina for the G20 Health Ministerial Meeting.

Today, Secretary Azar began his meetings in Fortaleza, Brazil. First he visited the Urgent Care Center Praia do Futuro where he learned about the structure of 24-hour urgent care units and how such centers function as a part of Brazil’s decentralized public health system. Here he also saw first-hand how Fortaleza has used its decentralized model to manage patient flows for greater efficiency and improved outcomes.

Next, Secretary Azar attended a breakfast meeting with Ceará State Governor Camilo Santana, Ceará State Health Secretary Henrique Javi, and other key health officials to discuss the unique aspects of the healthcare system in the State of Ceará and how they have implemented innovative ways to increase access and improve outcomes. They also discussed the United States-Brazil collaboration on the Zika virus and how our two nations can work together to enhance and protect our citizens against global health threats.

Later in the morning, Secretary Azar met with Dr. Islane Verçosa of CAVIVER and her medical team. CAVIVER is a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Brazil that engages with the public health system and international partners. Secretary Azar and Dr. Verçosa discussed the partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Brazilian Ministry of Health on the CDC’s Zika Outcomes and Development in Infants and Children (ZODIAC) investigation and how the results of this study have informed the care of children impacted by Zika. This follow-up assessment of children aged 12-24 months conceived during the 2015-2016 Zika virus outbreak in Brazil provided a first-ever description of the longer-term health and developmental effects of congenital Zika virus infection in children with microcephaly. At CAVIVER, Secretary Azar met and spoke with children and families affected by congenital Zika syndrome.

In the afternoon, Secretary Azar met with additional children and families affected by congenital Zika syndrome at the Albert Sabin Infant Hospital. This hospital serves as a specialty care center in the Brazilian public health system and as a reference center for care of infants and children in the northeastern region of Brazil. Here Secretary Azar learned about the hospital’s partnership with CDC on Zika and about the services they provide to care for children affected by the range of problems caused by microcephaly, including hearing and vision problems and other neurological conditions.

Secretary Azar reaffirmed HHS’ and the CDC’s continued support for Zika activities and reiterated that the Zika story is not over for affected families who face  managing lifelong disabilities for affected children.  CDC continues to monitor the health outcomes and care of affected babies to learn how to best protect mothers and babies from Zika virus infection and other emerging threats. Zika remains a threat in over 100 countries and territories, and pregnant women should still avoid travel to areas with risk of Zika. For a full list of areas with risk of Zika, please visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information.

Later in the afternoon, Secretary Azar traveled to São Paulo, Brazil where he will participate in meetings on Tuesday, October 2. Additional information regarding the Secretary’s meetings and schedule will be forthcoming in news releases and social media posts.

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