In 1959, the Institute of Preventive Medicine (IMEP) was created with the objective of developing teaching and research in Preventive Medicine, Public Health and related disciplines in the undergraduate health courses at the UFC. At the end of the 1960s, at the peak of its activities in Public Health, the IMEP was dismantled, as a consequence of the authoritarian intervention of the political regime that had been established in the country, and its faculty was persecuted, exiled or dispersed. However, the actors and practices constituted allowed the continuity of an even broader project of reorientation of health policy, care and education.

As of 1972, with the University Reform, the Department of Community Health at the UFC (DSC/UFC) incorporated the remnants of IMEP and the Department of Preventive Medicine, along with professors who worked in Pediatrics, Gynecology-Obstetrics and Infectious and Parasitic Diseases. 

Embodied by the Magna Carta of 1988, the UFC took a leading role in the discussion on health issues of the population of Ceará. A first innovation was to create the Center for Collective Health Studies (NESC), which is a state reference in research and training of policy-makers and workers in Collective Health, as well as in the advisory services to the health departments of the State and municipalities of Ceará.

In dialogue with other actors that foster the constitution and development of the field of Collective Health in other Brazilian institutions, a group of professors linked to the UFC elected as an institutional priority the creation of a Master’s in Public Health. After the experience of the first Specialization Course in Epidemiology, in 1993, in partnership with the National Center of Epidemiology (CENEPI) of the Ministry of Health, aimed at university professors and professionals linked to the health services network, the institutional-pedagogical project of the Master’s in Public Health at the UFC was designed.

Finally, the Master’s in Public Health was established at the UFC in 1994, as one of the first in the Northeast of the country in the area of Collective Health, second only to the pioneer existing at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA). The participation of Professor Maria Zélia Rouquayrol was paramount; she had participated in the IMEP experience and already stood out as a reference epidemiologist on the national scene. It is also necessary to point out the arrival at UFC of Prof. Ricardo José Soares Pontes and Prof. Lígia Regina Franco Sansigolo Kerr still in the early 1990s, both with recently concluded PhD degrees at the Department of Social Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto – University of São Paulo. After them, other faculty members  joined, among whom were Prof. Raquel Maria Rigotto (1994) and Prof. Maria Lucia Magalhães Bosi (2005), who were members of the faculty of the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, respectively.

When created, the PPGSP/UFC was based on the discipline of Epidemiology with a single area of concentration. However, the commitment with other disciplinary perspectives of the field of Collective Health was demarcated since the beginning: Epidemiology of communicable and non-communicable diseases; Epidemiology of epidemics and hospital infection; Work, production and health (including worker’s health); maternal, child and adolescent health; Human and Social Sciences in Health; health policies and organization and evaluation of health services.

In 2009, the first PhD course in Collective Health of the State of Ceará was implemented – the PhD in Collective Health in Broad Association of Higher Education Institutions – a pioneer project, initiated with the participation of the UFC and the State University of Ceará (UECE), with later inclusion (2011) of the University of Fortaleza (UNIFOR). This Broad Association was an innovative and strategic option created by CAPES to induce the union of distinct university institutions, in order to implement and consolidate interinstitutional graduation, until each participating University accumulated sufficient experience and objective means for the sustainability of their own programs. 

Most of the faculty members of the Master’s in Public Health at the UFC became part of the PhD in Collective Health in Broad Association together with academics appointed by the other institutions that made up the aforementioned partnership. 

Through its faculty advisers, the UFC showed significant and qualified participation in the PhD in Broad Association, with a total of thirteen (13) faculty advisers belonging to the institution. From 2008 to 2012, 64 students in the PhD in Association were linked to advisers from the UFC, all also integrated into the Master’s in Public Health at the UFC, demonstrating the commitment and performance of its faculty as an anchor institution of the Association. Legitimizing this experience, the CAPES Thesis Award for the best PhD thesis in 2016 was awarded to the PhD student Francisco Rogerlândio Martins de Melo with the Thesis: “Mortality related to neglected tropical diseases in Brazil, 2000-2011: Magnitude, spatial-temporal patterns and associated factors”. The thesis was supervised by Prof. Jorg Heukelbach in partnership with Prof. Alberto Novaes Ramos Jr, both permanent professors of the PPGSP/UFC.

PPGSP/UFC academics received the first scholarships for Research Productivity (PQ, in the area of Collective Health) of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), both PQ level 2 and PQ level 1 in the state of Ceará.

With accumulated expertise, scientific expertise and institutional learning, the PPGSP has assumed the fundamental role of leading a master’s and a PhD course within the UFC. This happens without losing the dialogue, solidarity, interinstitutional collaboration and social commitment learned in its trajectory.

History of Evaluations of the Commission for the Improvement of Higher Level Personnel (CAPES) of Brazil

The PPGSP/UFC is the first (and only one so far) to obtain the concept of national excellence (Concept 5) in Collective Health in Ceará, according to the last assessment by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Level Personnel – CAPES (2013-2016).

CAPES concept of the Graduate Program in Public Health at the UFC:

Evaluation period: . . . . Concept:

2017-2020 . . . . . . . . . . . . under assessment

2013-2016 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 (Very good)

2010-2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 (Good)

2007-2009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 (Good)

2004-2006 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 (Good)

2001-2003 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 (Regular)