Dr. Cláudio Marcos da Silveira, a Brazilian epidemiologist who played an important role in the implementation of immunization programs in the Americas, passed away on 28 August 2012 after losing a battle with cancer. He was 76.
Dr Silveira graduated in medicine from the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre in 1967, and completed his residency in psychiatry at St. Peter’s Hospital. Soon after, he became interested in epidemiology and after completing graduate work in public health at the University of São Paulo; he served as a medical epidemiologist in the Epidemiological Control Unit at the Department of Health and Environment of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, between 1969 and 1975. From 1975 to 1978, he directed the Biological Research Institute, and was part of the group that advocated for polio vaccination and epidemiological surveillance in Brazil. During this period, Dr Silveira also served as a consultant for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Bangladesh, Latin America and Somalia for the Smallpox Eradication Program. During the 1980s, he received his Master’s degree in Biological Sciences, worked on the Malaria Control Program in the Amazon, and was municipal secretary for Health and Human Services in his native city of Porto Alegre.
In the late 1980’s, he joined the Expanded Immunization (EPI) team at the Pan American Health Organization Headquarters in Washington, DC. During his years working at PAHO headquarters he collaborated in the development and implementation of several immunization strategies that resulted in the regional control and elimination of various vaccine-preventable diseases, notably the regional elimination of polio and measles, and was one of the main architects of the strategy that eliminated neonatal tetanus as a public health problem in most countries of the Americas.
After retiring from PAHO in 1998, he continued to collaborate as a consultant for PAHO, assisting Latin American and Caribbean countries in the preparation of the Action Plan for the laboratory containment of poliovirus and conducting a review of mumps data in Latin America and the Caribbean in order to determine the clinical safety of different mumps vaccines, among other tasks. His most recent activities as a PAHO consultant included participating in evaluations of Immunization Program of Latin American countries.
Dr. Silveira also loved his country and enjoyed his return to work and live there until his death. Because of his strong technical and scientific background, couple with his kindness, easy smile and dedicated work, his absence is already noticeable for those who worked with him, but also for the public health community as well. He will be sorely missed.