MENU menu
  • Awarded: 2006
  • Issue Areas: Economic Opportunity · Education · Environmental Sustainability · Health · Health Delivery · Livelihoods · Living Conditions · Post-Secondary Education · Women's and Girls' Education
  • Countries Served: Brazil
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Saúde Criança is a social organization with a pioneering methodology that assists children who have been hospitalized and are living below the poverty line, by fostering the economic and social self-sufficiency of their families.

    Founded in 1991 by Dr. Vera Cordeiro, Saúde Criança is a Brazilian non-profit with no political or religious affiliations.

    Through its Profession Program, Saúde Criança offers vocational courses to family members depending on their interests and skills. Their Housing Program is focused on home improvements, while the Aconchego Familia Program offers therapy for mothers. They also offer programs for pregnant women and adolescents.

    Research conducted by Georgetown University shows that Saúde Criança’s programs work. Participating families saw a decrease in the number of days that their children spent in hospital, improvements in income and employment prospects, and an increase in rates of home ownership. Perceptions of family wellbeing increased, as did the number of children in school, and the number of adults in a family who were employed.

    Overwhelmed public hospitals can treat disease but rarely address the conditions that made a child sick in the first place, fueling a cycle of reinfection.

    Saude Crianca engages healthcare providers and families in a Family Care Plan.

    Vera Cordeiro (left) realized that attention to nutrition, employment, sanitation, and other factors reduces re-infection and hospitalization by up to 85 percent.

    More than 50,000 people have been helped to date.

    Ambition for Change

    Public hospitals develop policies, programs, and capacity to go beyond treating disease, and attend to the living conditions that are among the root causes of poor health among families living in poverty.

    Path to Scale

    Demonstration and Replication

    Saúde Criança launches program services through local franchises but expands them to large scale by working with public hospitals and health agencies to make the practices standard in large health systems.

    Business Model

    Philanthropic support for core programs and demonstration; public support for uptake of the model and practices at hospitals and health institutions.

    In her work as a physician in a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Dr. Vera Cordeiro felt helpless and frustrated when children who had been successfully treated for an infectious disease, later returned to the hospital and died after being re-infected at home. Vera Realized that to save these children she had to help entire families. She raffled off her belongings to fund own the launch of Health Association Child (Children's Health Association) in 1991. Despite early resistance from hospital administration and social workers, Vera persevered, recruiting and providing intensive training to volunteers who then worked one-on-one with poor families. Child Health has developed an integrated approach, the Family Action Plan attends to the entire family's situation in terms of health, income, housing, education, and citizenship. Services include provision of supplies such as milk and diapers, the family food basket, vocational training and placement, and help to improve sanitation. At the time of the Award, 350 families were enrolled, and another 1,150 families were being served by independent centers replicating the Child Health program in three Brazilian states.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • A Georgetown University study found that families participating in Saúde Criança programs achieved durable results – 85 percent decrease in hospitalizations and 92 percent increase in income, up to 5 years after engagement with the program was completed.
    • The model has been replicated at 23 institutions in six Brazilian states, helping more than 50,000 people. Saúde Criança (itself has 10 franchises in six states and an international support office in New York.
    • The methodology is official policy in public hospitals in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte (Brazil’s third largest city).

    See All Awardees →