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we celebrated 18 years of developing and strengthening public health policies to promote healthier lives for children and adolescents

In 2021, amid all the challenges brought by the second year of the pandemic, we celebrated 18 years of developing and strengthening public health policies to promote healthier lives for children and adolescents. Since its creation, the Desiderata Institute has championed this as the best strategy to reach more families in a just and egalitarian way. The achieved results make us confident about taking the first steps to expand our operations beyond Rio de Janeiro, where our history began.

Our pioneering project, the Unidos pela Cura (UPC), a strategy to promote early diagnosis of childhood cancer, which brings together managers from the Brazilian Public Health System and specialized hospitals, and civil society organizations, began its journey to reach other Brazilian states this year. Until 2021, more than 2,400 pediatric patients were cared for in Rio. Our goal is for this successful initiative to spread so that more and more children will have greater chances of being cured. An important first step in this direction was the launch of the UPC Guide, a manual for health managers who wish to implement this strategy in their own municipalities.

Childhood cancer care is in Desiderata's DNA, and to further expand discussion on the matter, we held the 6th Pediatric Oncology Forum. In its first online version, the forum reached hundreds of participants from all over Brazil, consolidating itself as a strategic space for discussion and proposition of public policies on the subject at a national level.

The use of virtual spaces and tools, accelerated by remote work, proved to be opportune not only to mobilize specialists and those interested in our causes, but also to expand our training of primary care professionals. To strengthen early diagnosis of cancer and the prevention and care of obesity in children and adolescents, we launched an online learning platform, offering a free course on each subject to these health professionals. The information obtained from the first classes is being used to improve student experience in the course and expand its reach to other municipalities, following our practice of evidence-based decision-making.

On our opening legislative advocacy actions, we attained a significant victory in Rio’s City Council, with the approval in its first voting round of a bill that implements measures to contain the growing rates of childhood obesity in the municipality. The political discussions and advocacy campaign promoted by Desiderata in favor of the bill, with the active involvement of our Board of Directors, were fundamental to promote public debate about this topic. The launch of the Online Panorama on Obesity in Children and Adolescents also supported our strategy of disseminating information to support data-driven policymaking.

These developments, among many others listed in this annual report, helped us consolidate ourselves as relevant actors in the public health scenario. Amid the difficulties brought about by the pandemic, we strengthened our institution, our practices, and the results of our work, which you can see in more detail in the following sections.

We wish you a good read!
Mark Essle, President of the Board of Directors
Desiderata team

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Message from the Executive Director

I feel Desiderata is ready to maintain its growth trend and is also prepared to expand into other states in Brazil, turning into a benchmark in the areas in which it operates

In 2021, when Desiderata turned 18 years, it was very clear to me that it was the end of a cycle and the start of a new one. Little did I know that such a remarkable year would be my last one at the Institute. I walk away so proud of the work we were able to put in together.

It was at Desiderata that I learned how to think about social investment strategically, getting closer to public health policies, which I believe are the best way for us to build a healthier and fairer country.

I was part of the history of this organization for 16 and a half years, 11 of them as executive director. Those years get mixed up with the history of Desiderata itself, an organization that started out with a team of three people and now boasts 20 members of a team that is cohesive, dedicated, competent, and highly committed and that has contributed so much to the results achieved not only in 2021, but throughout this journey.

Despite all the daily challenges posed to public health, in oncology, we have managed, through Unidos pela Cura, to shorten the time for the referral of children suspected of cancer seen in primary healthcare units. We have also trained over 4,500 health professionals for the detection of the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer, which are crucial for an early diagnosis – and now we have made progress with the online learning format, reaching a larger number of professionals. We have also carried out 10 infrastructure projects for qualification of services and treatment at specialized hospitals, gaining nationwide recognition with the Forum and Panorama on Pediatric Oncology, and international prominence with the Union for the International Cancer Control (UICC) and Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer.

Created only 3 years ago, the Child and Adolescent Obesity area has already become a benchmark, commanding attention to this serious public health problem through communication campaigns and dissemination of evidence-based information. On our path towards strengthening public health in order to generate a positive impact on the lives of even more children, we have designed patient trajectories for proper treatment of children and adolescents with obesity in the public health system and advocacy of initiatives put forward by the legislative branch targeted at guaranteeing children’s nutrition and making them healthier.

All of these breakthroughs have been possible because we have also expanded and diversified our funding sources in the past few years, attracting supporters that have been key to our development and implementation of our projects. In the meantime, we have strengthened communication, a department that has grown in strategic importance, allowing us to fulfill our mission.

I feel Desiderata is ready to maintain its growth trend and is also prepared to expand into other states in Brazil, turning into a benchmark in the areas in which it operates, mainly in the strengthening of the public sector, which is paramount to make our dream come true: having Brazilian children among the healthiest around the globe.

Now in the first half of 2022, I would like to share with you my enormous gratitude for this opportunity in my professional life and the sense of fulfillment from having been a part of an organization that plays a crucial role in child health. I also wish Mrs. Renata Couto, the new director, and the whole team tremendous success. May Desiderata soar ever higher!

Roberta Costa Marques,
Executive Director

About Desiderata

The Desiderata Institute is a non-profit organization founded in Rio de Janeiro 18 years ago with the aim of promoting healthier life for children and adolescents by providing early diagnosis of cancer and improvements in its treatment and in the prevention and treatment of childhood and adolescent obesity.

We provide integrated solutions for strengthening child public health, including advocacy actions in the legislative and executive branches, awareness campaigns, training of primary healthcare professionals, humanization of treatment at public hospitals, community mobilization actions, and partnerships with the public and private sectors and the civil society.

Our mission

To promote solutions that provide children and adolescents with timely prevention, diagnosis, and healthcare.

Our dream

Brazilian children and adolescents among the healthiest in the world.

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Organizational development


...believe in public health as a basic principle for the development of children and adolescents.

The Desiderata Institute receives donations from natural persons and legal entities that believe in public health as a basic principle for the development of children and adolescents. Our partners – natural persons, foundations, and companies – provide us with financial and technical support and service.

In 2021, one of our highlights was the Online Learning Project, conducted in partnership with Umane and the RJZ Fund, which allowed us to keep our strategies for training of health professionals during the pandemic, and also broadened the outreach of our training courses, initially to all municipalities in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and then, in the future, to our country as a whole.

Apart from designing an online learning platform in conjunction with Jaleko, the Desiderata Institute received technical support from specialists in the Brazilian National Department of Health, Brazilian National Cancer Institute (INCA), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), the Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ), the Center for Nutritional Recovery and Education of São Paulo (CREN), and from the state and local departments of Rio de Janeiro for the creation of two courses: (1) Early diagnosis of child and adolescent cancer and (2) Childhood obesity care.

These projects underscore the importance and potential of the partnerships established by Desiderata.

Both courses were approved by the Teaching-Service Integration Committee of the Rio de Janeiro State Department of Health, Meeting of Heads of the Local Department of Health, and Bipartite Intermanagerial Committee – CIB/RJ. After the approval, vacancies were created for all local departments of health in the 92 municipalities of the state of Rio de Janeiro.

The project for the passing of acts for childhood obesity prevention in the city of Rio de Janeiro is also noteworthy. Supported by the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and Umane, Desiderata embarked on advocacy actions in the legislative branch in 2021, bearing in mind that it is necessary to exert a tighter control over the most common places where children eat their meals, focusing specifically on school cafeterias, so as to reduce childhood obesity rates.
Our warmest thanks to our partners!

Financial partnerships:

Services partnerships

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Organizational communication

Communication is a strategic pillar at the Desiderata Institute, and communication actions are interconnected with the other areas. We develop content and actions with the aim of making child and adolescent health a priority in the discussion and implementation of public policies. This sector is also in charge of strengthening the bonds with our partners in the health field and making our organization more widely known by the general public and by potential supporters, in addition to maximizing funding strategies.

In 2021, the efforts we put in having Bill 1662/19 passed in Rio raised the visibility of the Obesity agenda and helped us enhance the image of Desiderata as an important actor in this field, turning it into a reference in the debate on child public health.

Participation on social media

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Financial Statements get pdf






Executive Director

Roberta Costa Marques


Carolina Motta – Healthcare Project Manager – Oncology

Lucas Sanches – Healthcare Project Manager – Obesity (up to July 1, 2021)

Raphael Barreto – Healthcare Project Manager – Obesity (as of July 19, 2021)

Elisa Mendonça – Healthcare Analyst – Obesity

Claudia Bezerra – Project Coordinator - Oncology

Fabíola Leal – Advocacy Consultant

Michele Costa – Healthcare Data Consultant

Camila Nóbrega – Online Learning Project Consultant

Ísis Botelho – Online Learning Project Consultant


Anna Carolina Cardoso | Manager

Igor Simões | Communications Assistant

Organizational Development

Luiza Rudge | Manager

Lana Bauab | Fundraising Consultant

Finance and Administration

Natália Carcione | Manager (up to August 11, 2021)

Vanessa Dalcanal | Manager (from July 6 to November 28, 2021)

Carolina Miranda Dorneles (as of December 20, 2021)

Thaís Melo | Assistente Administrativa

Board of Directors

Mark Essle | President

Guilherme Frering

Antonia Frering

Arminio Fraga

Gabriela Paranhos

Germana Lyra Bähr

Guilherme Teixeira Azevedo

Maria Auxiliadora Gomes

Miguel Lago

Conselho Consultivo

Beatriz Cardoso

Heloisa Helena Oliveira

Luciano Huck

Paula Guedes

Rafael Gomes Martinez

Rodrigo Capistrano

Sergio Bermudes

Wanda Engel

Conselho Fiscal

Eduardo Poggi

Maria Fernanda Dias de Carvalho

Miguel Ramos de Carvalho

Advisory Board

Beatriz Cardoso

Heloisa Helena Oliveira

Luciano Huck

Paula Guedes

Rafael Gomes Martinez

Rodrigo Capistrano

Sergio Bermudes

Wanda Engel

Audit Committee

Eduardo Poggi

Maria Fernanda Dias de Carvalho

Miguel Ramos de Carvalho