Comprehensive and Successful Healthcare: Innovations from Brazil

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Picture yourself in Rio de Janeiro, not on Ipanema’s gorgeous sandy beach as most of us would but in one of the hundreds of favelas or shantytowns that are spread throughout the city. Substandard housing, overcrowding, and limited basic services such as poor sanitation systems are the norm. In this context, favela dwellers are overexposed to adverse and unexpected health events, which constitute a major channel for the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Most poor families must cope with a vicious cycle in which misery and illness lead to hospital admission and subsequent readmission and/or death as a result of poverty and the lack of adequate coping mechanisms. Even more vulnerable to the negative consequences of severe health conditions are single mothers and their children, which represent approximately 25 percent of poor urban households in Brazil (IETS, 2011).

When severe health problems occur in these circumstances, it is not enough to be able to have access to public hospitals. In addition to the psychological toll of dealing with chronic diseases, there are more bills to pay and a loss of income since someone has to take care of the family member who is hospitalized. It is not enough for these poor families to receive medical treatment since they will go back to living in terrible conditions, with less income, more debt, and few opportunities for improving their wellbeing. The picture is indeed dire but an innovative Brazilian NGO developed an approach to healthcare that is proven to be effective and which helps families during health shocks to prevent relapse, and generate the conditions for a much brighter future.

Source: Huffington Post (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health, public-private partnerships