Bolsonaro government vetoes doctor who criticized chloroquine as head of immunization program


Pediatrician Ricardo Queiroz Gurgel will not take over the coordination of the PNI (National Immunization Program). He was appointed to the post on October 6, but never took office.

According to Gurgel, he decided to go to Brasília this Thursday (28th) to understand why he had not yet been called to take over the portfolio that has been without command for almost four months. Upon arriving at the Ministry of Health, I learned that it was outside the government’s plans.

“I wanted a definition of whether I would assume or not because I have a life to assume, I’m a researcher and a professor. I imagine it wasn’t a problem in my curriculum, but I don’t know the reason for not assuming. This only the minister can say,” he said.

The pediatrician raises flags opposed to those of President Jair Bolsonaro (no party). In an interview with sheet, the doctor said he was in favor of vaccinating children and adolescents, criticized fake news about the immunization campaign and said that it is “sufficiently proven” that medications in the “Covid kit” are not effective.

Gurgel also claims that he had only one conversation with the minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, when he was invited to the position at the PNI. The minister, Gurgel said, did not call back after the appointment.

The doctor also said that he was received at the Ministry of Health on Thursday by a subordinate of the Secretary of Health Surveillance, Arnaldo Medeiros. This official reportedly informed that there is no chance of Gurgel becoming head of the PNI, but without going into details.

The pediatrician would take over from Francieli Fontana, a nurse and health worker who resigned at the end of June. she told the sheet, upon leaving the PNI, that Bolsonaro’s speeches hamper the immunization campaign.

Supporters of the president campaigned on social media against Gurgel’s appointment to the PNI. They argued that he and his wife, who published critical publications on the Bolsonaro government on the Internet, were not aligned with the president.

The complaints reached the Planalto. Queiroga’s team was informed that the Civil House barred Gurgel from taking office.

The pediatrician claims that he left the Federal University of Sergipe to take charge of the PNI, but he did not even receive instructions from the ministry on how to assume the position, assemble a team or access the functional email.

He said he does not know if he will receive a salary for the period in which he was appointed to the Bolsonaro government. He also stated that he asked to be immediately removed.

Queiroga is experiencing the worst moment in office. Isolated among SUS managers, the minister is still pressured by the president and supporters who campaign against vaccination.

Gurgel is not Queiroga’s first choice to be overthrown for opposing denial agendas. Doctor Luana Araújo, announced in May for the position of Covid-19’s Coping Secretary of the Ministry of Health, was dismissed ten days later.

The doctor Rosana Leite de Melo took over after Luana was sent away. The main decisions about Covid’s immunization are in the hands of the secretary. It would be up to Gurgel to decide on campaigns for other diseases, such as the flu.

In September, Rosana signed an orientation to suspend the vaccination of teenagers, even with the approval of Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) to apply Pfizer doses in the 12 to 17-year-old group. Ignored by SUS managers, the guidance dropped the following week.

Upon being announced to the PNI, Gurgel declared to the sheet that the controversy over vaccinating younger people was over. “Really, it is safe and useful that vaccination in adolescents is done,” said the pediatrician.

Minister Queiroga still tried, at the beginning of his term, but he was unable to dismiss names that please the pocket base, such as the secretary of Science, Technology and Strategic Inputs, Hélio Angotti. He is a doctor who defends the so-called “Covid kit” who participated in a government trip to Israel to learn about the nasal spray against Covid.

A member of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics, Gurgel holds a degree in medicine from UFS (Federal University of Sergipe), where he is a professor. He also studied for a doctorate in child and adolescent health at USP (University of São Paulo).

The Ministry of Health was contacted, but has not returned so far.


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