June arrived blooming and brought along the Summer, a Summer that will go down in history and in the memory of a time of pandemic, when every day we wake up to a normality which we want to be more and more rooted, with us feeling increasingly free to go about our lives with no restrictions, but still with some suspicion about the uncertainty of the current moment.
Frontiers were opened, because life cannot stop and we make up the economy, and keeping distance fell apart in favour of the defence of human rights, evidenced in protests and demonstrations against racism that spread as quickly as the new coronavirus, the latter figuring prominently mainly in the region of Lisbon and Tagus Valley, haunted by the contagion index far below the international praise of other times.
June’s heat invited us to sunbathe and swim in the sea, but going to the beach was never as strange as it is now, in a month also marked by the return of football fervour (with some unpleasantness).
The restrictions were eased and the prayers returned to Fátima, which was the stage of the first pilgrimage, in a ritual of faith strengthened by the now resumed connection to the place of worship and devotion of many Portuguese. But in a grotesque contrast to such noble feelings, we saw the facet of savagery and ignorance at the end of the lockdown that caused statues to fall and made many forget the pandemic control rules, which has already infected more than 9 million people worldwide.
June brought contrasts, emotions confronted with new habits in a renewed normality which, at times hesitant, we have come to accept. The pandemic deprived us of festive gatherings at the popular saints celebrations. There were no festivals, but Portugal was celebrated. In an unprecedented ceremony, sa we were invited to reflect on what it means to love a country. And as Cardinal Tolentino Mendonça recalled, the members of a community are linked by a common duty, by a shared task. “What is the first task for a community? Taking care of life. There is no greater, more humble, more creative or more current mission”. A mission that we proudly defend, working with rigor and dedication to serve more and better each day.
We turned our attention to the exams taken at a distance, which marked this month's agenda, and endeavoured to overcome yet another most demanding test of great responsibility for the entire academic community. And in this new educational paradigm brought about by the pandemic, we also heard the final year students’ report on the impact of Covid-19 on their professional future
In timely fashion, we analysed the higher education panorama in Portugal, contrasting the excess supply of young doctors with the increase in the number of available places in medical degrees. We were open to conversation, acting rigorously in defence of the excellence of Medical Education in Portugal through the presentation of a solidly argued statement written by the President of the CEMP and Director of our Faculty, Fausto J. Pinto, demonstrating publicly, and with full evidence, that there is no reason to increase the training offer in medicine in our country.
And because the future belongs to children, we celebrated the energy of the little ones in a month that pays tribute to them on its first day, reinforcing the importance of the projects and actions conducted by our Nutrition Laboratory.
We shared more knowledge about the new coronavirus, dispelling the fears that the third phase of the opening up had on health, in an analysis conducted by Professor Maria Mota, and we looked at the serological tests through the view of Professor Francisco Antunes on the correct management of virus and antibody tests as a strategy to combat Covid-19. We also looked at the persistent outbreak of virus transmission in the Greater Lisbon region, in a pertinent comment by Professor Miguel Castanho, who invoked the use of reason in a pandemic communicated in contradictions and many doubts about increasingly frequent gatherings. And between a past lockdown and a present of greater, yet still unsettling, freedom, we debated whether the country opened up to quickly.
We assessed the situation of our health professionals, who assumed this role continuously, extending their existence in caring for patients in times of pandemic. And because we care about the welfare of those who care, we collaborated on the project “Mental Health in Times of Pandemic (SM-Covid-19)”.
We also called for environmental awareness in the light of Environment Day, one in which the importance of rethinking the relationship of the human species with the environment is highlighted, sharing the analysis of the expression of the pandemic in Environmental Health, in a factual and detailed dissertation of the ISAMB.
We revisited the history of immunology with Professor Bruno Silva-Santos, adeputy director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, trying to understand the narrative of a pandemic that gives the immunologist the role of a hero. We also focused on scientific knowledge and everything that exists beyond covid-19. We disseminated good practices for the promotion of digestive health in a lesson conducted by Professor Rui Tato Marinho, clarifying the main warning signs and the importance of prevention, as well as access to credible information on diseases that share time and space with the pandemic.
We applauded the excellence of the University of Lisbon, recognizing its performance in the area of scientific research, and we welcomed the success of another edition of the Solvin' It Project, which also scored 20 out of 20 in the distance learning test.
The commitment to Science that drives our academic community was reflected in a new international success, this time with the “Whitman Fellowships 2020” award given to Professor Edgar Gomes for the merit of his research work.
We also looked at Figures, because we remain committed to the Faculty of Helping all professionals in the National Health Service, contributing to improving working conditions in critical pandemic times.
And so we remain focused on our community, “because we could not live without each other”, as Cardinal José Tolentino Mendonça said, stressing that the community is where “our history begins”.
The first six months of the year have gone fast, we have already written half the story of an unforgettable year. We leave you with the promise that we will remain firm in our convictions, practices and scientific rigor, in the certainty and confidence that, and quoting the illustrious poet Luís Vaz de Camões, times change, wills change, beings change, trust changes; the entire world is made up of change, always taking on new qualities.