Henrique Gouveia e Melo
|Coordinator of the|
COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Task Force
3 February 2021 –28 September 2021
|Preceded by||Francisco Ramos|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
|Commander of the European Maritime Force|
19 September 2017 –19 September 2019
|Preceded by||Donato Marzano|
|Succeeded by||Jean-Philippe Rolland|
Henrique Eduardo Passaláqua de Gouveia e Melo
21 November 1960
|Alma mater||Naval School|
Vice-Admiral Henrique Eduardo Passaláqua de Gouveia e Melo(born 21 November 1960) is a Portuguese Navy officer,currently serving as the Adjutant for Planning and Coordination of the Armed Forces General Staff,as well as the coordinator of the Task Force for the national COVID-19 vaccination plan.
Gouveia e Melo had previously served as a Commander of the Portuguese Fleet (Comandante Naval) from 2017 to 2020 and,from 2017 to 2019,as Commander of the European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR).
Due to his prominent national role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal,Gouveia e Melo was included in Jornal de Negócios 's list of 50 Most Powerful People of 2021, which included both Portuguese and international personalities.
Henrique Gouveia e Melo was born in 1960 in Quelimane,Mozambique,which at the time was the Overseas Province of Mozambique,a territory under Portuguese rule. He was the son of Manuel Henriques Gomes de Frias de Melo e Gouveia,of a family of aristocratic roots in the Beira Interior region,and his wife Maria Helena Pereira Passaláqua,of Italian descent.
He spent his youth between Quelimane and São Paulo in Brazil and,finally,Lisbon,where he went at age 18 to enrol at the Naval School as a cadet in 1979. Each Naval School class is referred to by the name of an historical figure assigned to it as a patron;that year's was First World War hero Carvalho Araújo. In September 1984,at age 23,he finished his studies and was promoted to the rank of midshipman.
At age 24,in September 1985,he volunteered in the Submarine Escadrille ( Esquadrilha de Submarinos ) and sailed in the Albacora-class submarines NRP Albacora,NRP Barracuda,and NRP Delfim in several operational roles as a garrison officer and,later,in command positions as a Chief Officer aboard the NRP Albacora and the NRP Barracuda. During his long service in the Submarine Escadrille,which only ended in 2002,he also commanded the submarines NRP Delfim and NRP Barracuda,led the escadrille's Training and Assessment Service (Serviço de Treino e Avaliação) and the Staff of the National Submarine Operating Authority (Estado-Maior da Autoridade Nacional para o Controlo de Operações de Submarinos;SUBOPAUTH).
After three years as a Navy Spokesman and having played a decisive role in the project for the acquisition of the new Tridente-class submarines,he commanded,from 2006 to 2008,the NRP Vasco da Gama (F330) frigate. He then returned to his activities as a submariner as the commander of the Submarine Escadrille,overseeing the necessary changes to adapt the military unit to the new submarines,namely,the sea trials and the commissioning of NRP Tridente (S160). Before his promotion to general officer ranks,he served as the Second Commander of the Naval Fleet,Director of Lighthouses,and Director of the Sea Rescue Institute (Instituto de Socorros a Náufragos).
He was promoted to Rear Admiral in April 2014,after which he was appointed Chief of Staff to the Chief of the Naval Staff,until 2016,and then briefly served as the Second Commander of the Naval Fleet,leading it in an interim capacity. He was promoted to Vice-Admiral in January 2017,after which he served as Commander of the Portuguese Fleet. At this time,he additionally served as Commander of the European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR) until September 2019. From January 2020,he was named Adjutant for Planning and Coordination of the Armed Forces General Staff.
Gouveia e Melo took on an high-profile role during the COVID-19 pandemic,following his appointment as Coordinator of the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Task Force,the unit set up by the Portuguese government to assure the strategic planning and logistics for the national mass immunization campaign. Gouveia e Melo was appointed to head the task force on 3 February 2021,following the resignation of the first coordinator,former Secretary of State for Health Francisco Ramos,over a "queue jumping" scandal,in which people not belonging to priority groups allegedly were receiving their vaccines before their turn.
After being relatively spared during the first surge of the pandemic due to an internationally-praised timely and effective response,Portugal was at the time under a second national lockdown as it was being particularly severely hit by a second wave:the country had the highest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the world,and the record numbers of new cases and hospital admissions threatened to overwhelm the struggling National Health Service.
Admiral Gouveia e Melo began to wear only his green combat uniform in public as well and used not only "the language of war" but military language in public outreach attempts. By October 2021,98% of the eligible population and 86% of the total population was vaccinated against Covid-19.
On 4 October 2021,shortly after the Vaccination Task Force disbanded,Gouveia e Melo was awarded the Golden Globe for Merit and Excellence in a ceremony in Coliseu dos Recreios. As he was presented with the award by Francisco Pinto Balsemão,former Prime Minister and Chairman of Grupo Impresa,he received a standing ovation,and on his speech thanked every Portuguese that had contributed to the success of the vaccination effort and voiced his intention of leaving the trophy at the Ministry of Health.
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