Fellow Since 2008
This profile was prepared when Adalberto Barreto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Public health policies are still largely predicated on the assumption that health professionals are the primary vehicles for treating disease despite the fact that many, if not most, diseases in developing countries are a consequence of social vulnerability and poverty. In order to address the root causes of the issues individuals face, Adalberto created Community Therapy to provide community care based in social and academic knowledge. In partnership with communities, Adalberto built the methodology of Community Therapy first in the favela of Fortaleza. The program consisted of a wide range of components, including collective therapy circles, “live pharmacies,” and curing houses with complementary treatments. Throughout the process, he has received the recognition and technical support of the Federal University of Ceará and has placed his efforts in line with public health policies. To properly disseminate this new approach of social treatment of disease as well as quality control, Adalberto patented his methodology and created the Brazilian Association of Community Therapy. Through the Association, he has created 36 therapist teaching units throughout Brazil, which have trained almost 12,000 people in the methodology. Adalberto has been recognized by the national Ministry of Health who signed a partnership to train 1,100 health professionals in Community Therapy. Ultimately, he hopes to take Community Therapy to other countries in Latin America, as well as Africa that also have great reservoirs of cultural and traditional richness, and yet face problems of extreme social vulnerability.