Field Report From #BrazilMDGs : Health Care System – Right To All

Field Report From #BrazilMDGs : Health Care System – Right To All

Raimunda with her family and Dr. Rodrigo D'Aurea from the Community Health Center

Raimunda with her family and Dr. Rodrigo D’Aurea from the Community Health Center

Raimunda is a 46-year-old mother to two beautiful daughters aged 19 years old and 7 years old. She sadly has lungs cancer, stage-4, has undergone chemotherapy, and now is in palliative care. Her family physician, Dr. Rodrigo D’Aurea took us to her house  yesterday in a locality called Boa Vista in the suburbs of Sao Paulo which has a population of 20,000 people. She was diagnosed almost a year and half ago and she was already in stage-4. She has a very aggressive form of lung cancer. She used to smoke a long time ago, but has kicked the habit for more than a decade. Her husband used to contribute to the family’s upkeep until her elder daughter was 18 years old, but in the past year, he has stopped doing it. She has some pension from her retirement and she crochets for a living. You can see the beautiful white crochets folded on her couch.

Her doctor says, there are four things he has to take care of – firstly the physiological aspect of her body having cancer, secondly her psychological acceptance, how she deals with it, and accepts it emotionally, thirdly her dependents (here her daughters who will need to be adopted after her time), and fourthly he has also spoken to her priest and arranged for things. It made us a bit sad listening to it, this way. But hold on, there is more to this article. Melody, Julianna (our translator), and I accompanied Dr. Rodrigo D’Aurea and the health care worker on a work visit.

Dr. Rodrigo D'Aurea being greeted by yet one of his elderly patients on the street. The community health worker looking on.

Dr. Rodrigo D’Aurea being greeted by yet one of his elderly patients on the street. The community health worker looking on.

I am here all the way from India as an International Reporting Project Fellow, reporting about the Public Health Center’s community visits. Here, a team consisting of a doctor, a nurse, two nursing assistants, a community health worker visits their patients in their assigned locality (Boa Vista here) and speak to the people and treat them. As we walked along the streets, I could see every resident saying “Ola” (Hi/Hello) and “Tudu Bem” (How are you) to Dr. Rodgrigo. It looked like he was a friend, a son, a brother to everyone whom we passed along in the streets.

The USB (Unidade Basica de Saude) which basically means Unit of Primary Health located in Jardin Boa Vista (Garden of Boa Vista) takes care of its 20,000 residents. It is almost like a hospital with about ten consultation rooms, a dentistry, Vaccination room, first aid and emergency room, a small nurses’ station, and some admin rooms. It is elegant, clean and hygienic. The doctors and health workers cater to not just the medical needs of the residents, but to their emotional and family needs.

Because here social problems have a big impact on the health problems of residents.

Dr. Rodrigo D'Aurea leaving for the day after giving us a tour of the clinic and the community

Dr. Rodrigo D’Aurea leaving for the day after giving us a tour of the clinic and the community

Dr. Rodrigo mentioned that he is more like a psychologist, counselor and a family doctor, rolled into one. He knows more about all the residents than anybody else. He feels morally responsible and I could feel the pride in his voice when he spoke about them.

He owns the hearts of the residents, is all I can say.

This Community Health initiative is a wonderful one and it is funded by the SUS. (Sistema Único de Saúde) which means the Unified Health System. It is Brazil’s publicly funded health care system. SUS was created after the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, which assured that health care is a “right of all and an obligation of the State”. Prior to that, only people who contributed to social security were able to receive health care. The creation of SUS was important in the sense that more than 80% of the Brazilian population depend on it to receive medical treatment.

These public health units focus mainly on the family health instead of the health of a single individual. It is interrelated. A family’s social, mental, and emotional well-being is directly related to the physical health of the individuals. It taps into different knowledge and practices from the perspective of a holistic and problem solving approach, enabling the creation of bonds of trust through ethics, commitment, and respect. They have different specialists visiting them often and on request. They also refer cases to different units like oncology, gynecology, and such for detailed assistance.

All the population of Brazil is covered to receive primary health care. It does not matter if you have insurance or not, if you are covered under your social security or not. Brazil is on the road to achieve a 100% health coverage. This is something the other developing nations in the world have to carefully watch and learn from.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Purnima Ramakrishnan, our Indian mother writing from Chennai, India. Her contributions to the World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog.

Photo credit to the author.

Purnima Ramakrishnan is a fellow of Journalism with the International Reporting Project (IRP), reporting from Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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SOCIAL GOOD: No mother should have to go through this

SOCIAL GOOD: No mother should have to go through this

MIT_Mad square parkRSLast year, on a whim, I decided to join the NYC chapter of Moms in Training.  I came across it at a time when I was looking for somewhere to volunteer. This was a no-brainer…. get some exercise, meet new moms, help cancer patients and be a good role model for my children.  Perfect!
This was before Moms in Training went national with 30 cities across the US and Canada.  This was before there was a Moms in Training Leadership Committee, which is made up 100% of moms who thought so much about the program that they decided to volunteer whatever spare time they had to this great organization.  This was before I met Lucy, Alex’s mom who writes about her journey on Alex Fights Leukemia.
Alex was 15 months when she was diagnosed with leukemia and has been such a brave little girl.  She hasn’t known life in any other way than in and out of hospitals.  Alex has become our local heroine, and my first race was dedicated to her recovery.  She still has a way to go, but last time I saw Lucy she gave me the great news that Alex has the green light to start attending mommy and me classes, and interacting with other children.
Imagine not being able to take your child to the supermarket, or a playground for fear of germs.  Imagine sitting by your baby’s bedside in the hospital for days and weeks at a time, over and over again.  Imagine holding your baby in your arms while she receives anesthesia, and walking your sleeping infant into the operating room for yet another surgery. No mother should ever have to go through this.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) was one of the first organizations to invest in Dr. Carl June’s research when everyone else deemed his research to be too risky and unconventional. Treating leukemia patients with a strand of HIV virus? The results are astonishing. LLS has invested $30 million in Dr. June’s research since 1990 and continues to invest in cut-throat ground breaking research like his (I highly recommend you watch this video to find out what he’s done – it’s amazing!).
The survival rate for childhood leukemia in 1949, was zero, while today it is 90 percent.  To date, Moms in Training have raised over $500,000, 95% of which goes straight to the cause, either towards helping patients or medical research.  Most of LLS’s medical findings are tested and eventually rolled out to fight other types of cancers as well.  I have been so overly impressed by the organization, I can’t even put it into words.
Now I am about to embark onto my third season with Moms in Training.  I have met new neighbors, made friends, and lost some of my baby weight (I still have a bit to go – but it’s getting better every day :)!)  I ran 2 races already, which I never would have thought possible a year ago.  I have joined the leadership committee and am trying to recruit new moms to join our growing little family, because no mother should watch her child suffer.

Would you like to learn more about LLS?  Are you interested in finding out if there is a Moms In Training team in your area, or maybe even starting your own team?  Do you live in NYC and would you like to join our team? Go to  or you can ask me directly in the comments!  Would you like to support me in my next race (coming up in June)?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maman Aya.

Photo credit to the author.

Maman Aya (USA)

Maman Aya is a full-time working mother of 2 beautiful children, a son who is 6 and a daughter who is two. She is raising her children in the high-pressure city of New York within a bilingual and multi-religious home. Aya was born in Canada to a French mother who then swiftly whisked her away to NYC, where she grew up and spent most of her life. She was raised following Jewish traditions and married an Irish Catholic American who doesn’t speak any other language (which did not go over too well with her mother), but who is learning French through his children. Aya enjoys her job but feels “mommy guilt” while at work. She is lucky to have the flexibility to work from home on Thursdays and recently decided to change her schedule to have “mommy Fridays”, but still feels torn about her time away from her babies. Maman Aya is not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but has been drawn in by the mothers who write for World Moms Blog. She looks forward to joining the team and trying her hand at writing!

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