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What is behind the resignation of Nelson Teich as Minister of Health of Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, along with the new Minister of Health, Nelson Teich, after a press conference to announce the change in the head of the Ministry after the removal of Luis Henrique Mandetta, in Brasilia, April 16, 2020. REUTERS / Adriano Machado
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, along with the new Minister of Health, Nelson Teich, after a press conference to announce the change in the head of the Ministry after the removal of Luis Henrique Mandetta, in Brasilia, April 16, 2020. REUTERS / Adriano Machado

The oncologist Nelson Teich assumed the Brazilian Ministry of Health on April 17, but less than a month later he resigned for similar reasons as his predecessor in office.: the pressures of President Jair Bolsonaro to change the combat strategy to the new coronavirus.

Without any experience in politics and with a long history in private medicine, Teich was chosen by Bolsonaro to make Luiz Henrique Mandetta forget, with whom the president maintained strong disagreements about the need for isolation measures to contain the pandemic.

Mandetta, a defender of quarantines to curb the contagion curve, then failed in his attempt to convince the head of state to give priority to the health emergency and Teich has followed the same path.

Sources in the ministry cited by O Balloon They affirm that the executive secretary, General Eduardo Pazzuelo, will act as interim in office.

The oncologist assumed the Health portfolio with the contagion curve in full exponential growth and soon adopted a lower profile than its predecessor: It reduced the appearances before the press and avoided entering the melee with the far-right leader.

The Brazilian Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, at a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, April 15, 2020. REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino

The Brazilian Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, at a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, April 15, 2020.
REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino

Likewise, He began his administration with a diffuse message about the suitability of quarantines. However, with the passing of days, he distanced himself from the speech of the ruler, who is committed to returning to normality “immediately” because, as he maintains, unemployment “also kills”. The now former minister He then warned that Brazil may register a thousand deaths a day and ruled out, for the time being, recommending the relaxation of isolation measures, as Bolsonaro defends. “No one is thinking of relaxing isolation. At this moment, nobody is thinking of making anything more flexible ”, pointed out days ago. But the president ignored these guidelines and without notifying his Minister of Health, he included hairdressers, beauty salons and gyms in the list of essential activities. Teich learned of the president's decision through journalists at a press conference.

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Later both leaders entered conflict regarding the use of chloroquine, a drug whose efficacy against COVID-19 is not scientifically proven, but which Bolsonaro defends even for mild cases. Teich, on the other hand, warned this week about “collateral” risks of administering this antimalarial drug to those infected with coronavirus, to which the president responded implicitly asking all his ministers to be "in tune" with him. On the eve, in a virtual meeting with businessmen, Bolsonaro went one step further today and assured that "Would require" Teich to modify the recommendation on the use of chloroquine, which now the Ministry of Health only advises for more serious conditions.

That was the drop that filled the glass.

The Brazilian Health Minister, Nelson Teich, participates in the flag raising ceremony with the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro (out of box), this Tuesday, in front of the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia (Brazil). EFE / Joédson Alves

The Brazilian Health Minister, Nelson Teich, participates in the flag raising ceremony with the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro (out of box), this Tuesday, in front of the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia (Brazil). EFE / Joédson Alves

Teich leaves the office at a time when almost 14,000 deaths and more than 200,000 infections.

The peak of the pandemic is only expected for the next few weeks. Even though he does not have any kind of political experience, Teich provided advice to Bolsonaro's team who, in late 2018, prepared the transition before he received the power of President Michel Temer, on January 1, 2019. He also acted as advisor to the Department of Science, Technology and Strategy of the Ministry of Health between September 2019 and last January, although always in the technical area.

Until approaching Bolsonaro's transition team, Teich had only worked in the private sphere, where he is recognized as one of the best oncology specialists in the country. Teich studied medicine at the Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ), specialized in oncology at the National Cancer Institute (INCA), and also completed a doctorate in Health Economics at the British University of York. He is a partner and founder of the company Teich Health Care, which offers consulting in the medical area and whose clients are all from the private sector. Before, he was a member of the Institute of Education and Research, also focused on medicine, and was a member of the Integrated Oncology Clinics Group (IOC), which he chaired between 2015 and 2018. He also worked as a consultant for the Israelita Albert Einstein Hospital, in Sao Paulo , one of the leading medical centers in the country for cancer treatments.

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Archive image of the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro wearing a mask while speaking to journalists after a meeting with the president of the Federal Supreme Court, José Antonio Dias Toffoli, amid the pandemic of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, in Brasilia, Brazil. May 7, 2020. REUTERS / Adriano Machado / Archive
Archive image of the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro wearing a mask while speaking to journalists after a meeting with the president of the Federal Supreme Court, José Antonio Dias Toffoli, amid the pandemic of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, in Brasilia, Brazil. May 7, 2020. REUTERS / Adriano Machado / Archive

After learning of the resignation of his successor, former Minister Mandetta spoke on Twitter: "Pray. Force SUS (Public Health System). Science. Patience. Faith. Stay home."

With information from EFE

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Coronavirus in Brazil: Nelson Teich, the Health Minister, resigned due to differences with Jair Bolsonaro

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