Retirement Lesson of Professor José Pereira Miguel: «Challenges of Preventive Medicine: From Memories to the Future»
On 22 November, at 11:00 a.m., the Retirement Lesson of Professor José Pereira Miguel, Full Professor of the Faculty of Medicine and one of the leading figures of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, took place at the João Lobo Antunes Auditorium. "Challenges of Preventive Medicine: From Memories to the Future" was the title the Professor chose for the session.
The Auditorium was filled with people who somehow accompanied the life and career of Professor Pereira Miguel, fellow professors and physicians, students, prominent political personalities, including former health ministers and other leaders. And also one of the men that Professor Pereira Miguel evoked as one of his Masters, Professor Fernando Pádua. It should be noted that the other two names that the honoree referred to in this capacity, Professors Leal da Costa and Torres Pereira, important figures in the History of the Portuguese Medicine of the 20th century, both of FMUL, are no longer among us.
The Director of FMUL, Professor Doctor Fausto Pinto, spoke first, highlighting the merits of the honoree, figurehead of the affirmation of Preventive Medicine and Public Health in Portugal in the last decades, both in academic as well as political, civic and social terms, representing our country abroad several times, in particular at the World Health Organization (WHO).
A Retirement Lesson is a particularly difficult challenge if we think that it requires synthesizing the key moments of a long career in a short space of time. For this very reason, it becomes an emotional moment for the person in question and for those who collaborated with him.
In this case, the essence of a long journey was reviewed: the clinical career, the professorship, the various aspects of a public and social service activity, the political positions, the presidency of the Dr Ricardo Jorge National Institute of Health, and the representation of the country in the World Health Organization (WHO), among others.
We could not fail to emphasize one aspect which, for those who worked with Professor Pereira Miguel, says so much about his personality and way of being in life and relating to others: this was not a lesson with an emphasis on the first person of the singular - Professor Pereira Miguel spoke almost always in the plural, in collective accomplishments, work groups, departments, units, and teams.
And yet, those who know his path also know the extent of his contribution. His work, in particular in favour of the recognition of the importance of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, and of Epidemiology among us, is now embodied in the curricula of medical schools, in the training of doctors.
Preventive Medicine seeks to prevent the disease from taking place and spreading. This is what society today asks first and foremost to doctors - who centuries ago were mainly seen as healing agents: the fight against disease before it manifests itself, the promotion of health. This lesson was also about this and, in many instances, it was a history lesson of this medical discipline that helped us to better understand the characteristics of the world today and its inhabitants.
At a time when so often the emphasis is on health care costs, on the cost-effectiveness of treatments, we cannot fail to consider that these challenges and problems are addressed, firstly, in appropriate measures in the field of Preventive Medicine. Throughout history, these responses were not always to the satisfaction of the populations, as attested by Ricardo Jorge, one of the founding fathers of the discipline among us, who was forced to leave the city of Porto in a plague epidemic, after having decreed the evacuation of houses, as well as other measures that at the time were strongly unpopular.
We asked Professor Pereira Miguel for a text about his lesson, which will be published in the next issue of the Newsletter.
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