Fellow Since 1994
Centro Nordestino de Medicina Popular
This profile was prepared when Celerino Almeida Carriconde was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
Brazil is known for a highly centralized and "authoritarian" public health care system in which the professional doctor is the principal, if not sole, source of knowledge. Celerino Carriconde notes that the vast majority of health problems of Brazil's rural poor are as much, or more, social than "medical" in nature, and that the prevailing health care model is poorly disposed to address this social dimension. An experienced medical doctor and a leading expert on healing plants and traditional healing practices, Celerino is using his knowledge of rural culture and traditional medicine to reform the modern health care system. His alternative model for rural health care emphasizes prevention and self-help by means of activities that begin with the rediscovery and endorsement of local knowledge of medicinal plants and lead to education in nutrition and disease prevention. The end result is to improve health dramatically in poor communities, to reduce dependency on medical authorities and the formal health care system and, most importantly, to root a deep sense of responsibility and capacity for good health in the community itself.Having demonstrated his method in the rural interior of Pernambuco state, "Doctor Roots," as Celerino is known throughout Brazil, is now systematically disseminating it throughout rural Brazil.