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Vera Cordeiro  

Founder and CEO, Associação Saúde Criança

Vera Cordeiro is a social entrepreneur and physician.

She worked as a general practitioner for 20 years at Hospital da Lagoa, a public hospital which serves some of Rio de Janeiros poorest areas including the Baixada Fluminense (lowland slums) and Rocinha (Latin Americas largest favela).

Children are typically hospitalized, suffering from serious cases of pneumonia, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, anaemia and others, and subsequently released without having the necessary resources to continue their treatment at home. Being released into the conditions that make children sick in the first place results in a constant hospital admission/re-admission cycle.

In 1991, Cordeiro founded Brazil Child Health (Associao Sade Criana, formerly Renascer), whose mission is to provide holistic assistance to children and their families who live below the poverty line. It works in conjunction with public hospitals in Brazil in order to promote the self-sustainable, biopsychosocial well-being of the entire family. Her comprehensive approach engages health professionals to identify at-risk families and mobilizes a cadre of volunteers to work one-on-one with each family to take charge of transforming their lives. It has been shown that Saude Crianas model can reduce hospitalization rates by 60%, increase the income of assisted families by more than 35%, and lead to significant annual savings in public spending. 23 hospitals in six Brazilian states have already implemented the associations methodology.

So far her work has directly transformed the lives of 40,000 of the severely poor and marginalized. In recent years, Dr. Cordeiro began taking her social franchise model to a new level, working with health policymakers to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of her model as a strategy for guaranteeing childrens right to health and combating poverty. As a result, Dr. Cordeiros methodology has been integrated into the public policy of one of Brazils largest cities, Belo Horizonte.

Due to its transparency, social impact, and the applicability of its methodology, Sade Criana has garnered much international recognition. As the Bengali economist and banker Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Prize winner, once said: Sade Criana is a powerful social inclusion methodology.

Vera Cordeiro, founder and CEO of the organization, is an Ashoka, Schwab Foundation and Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneur, as well as an Avina leader. Amongst the many awards obtained by the organization, it is worth mentioning the Global Development Network Award, received by Sade Criana in 2003 after competing against 400 organizations from all over the world. In 2012, Associao Sade Criana was ranked the best Brazilian organization and 38th among the top 100 NGOs in the world by The Global Journal.

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