Novartis Foundation Announces Implementation Partners for Better Hearts Better Cities Urban Health Initiative in São Paulo, Brazil

Today, the Novartis Foundation announces the creation of a network of global and local implementation partners who will work together to co-design interventions to address São Paulo’s urban priorities and improve cardiovascular health.
Apr 26, 2018 10:00 AM ET

Less than three months after the selection of São Paulo, Brazil as the third city of the urban health initiative Better Hearts Better Cities, the Novartis Foundation announced the creation of a network of global and local implementation partners. They will co-design interventions to address São Paulo’s urban priorities to improve local cardiovascular health, including health education, lifestyle community programs, care coordination and standardization according to up-to-date clinical guidelines, and incorporating digital health tools into screening and care for high blood pressure.

“Addressing rising rates of chronic diseases in urban communities is such a complex challenge, it is essential that partners from different sectors unite behind a common approach. The Novartis Foundation engages to build a roadmap of similar partnerships in São Paulo, as we did and learned in Dakar (Senegal) and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)”, said Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation.

Wilson Pollara, São Paulo’s Municipal Secretary of Health underlined the commitment of the city, “The Better Hearts Better Cities initiative, in alignment with the current strategies of the Health Secretary, will speed-up the improvements of the health and wellbeing of our people in São Paulo.”

Instituto Tellus selected as lead implementation partner in Sao Paulo

Instituto Tellus has been selected as the local implementation partner for Better Hearts Better Cities in São Paulo. They will lead and align partners behind common priorities, such as conducting health education, supporting the integration of hypertensive patients into the primary care services registry, expanding hypertension screening programs via community healthcare workers, implementing healthy lifestyle activities, and providing the necessary digital infrastructure.

“We’re very excited to join Better Hearts Better Cities in São Paulo. Together with our partners, we will design and implement tangible solutions that make a difference for our population,” said Germano Guimarães, Co-Founder and Director of Grupo Tellus.

Other new local partners are Sta. Marcelina, SOCESP, Move Social and the City of São Paulo. Their work will be complemented by global partners including the CDC Foundation, our global evaluation partner, the American Heart Association, our healthcare quality improvement partner, NCD Alliance, and Intel.

Complementing the set of global partners is the newly appointed learning consulting company Business Performance Institute (BPI) that will deliver high quality and innovative learning strategies at scale for sustainable impact. BPI collaborates closely with Better Hearts Better Cities local implementation partners to strengthen the quality of primary care workers’ knowledge of and practice in hypertension. Currently, BPI is also working with the Better Hearts Better Cities partners in Ulaanbaatar to develop innovative learning strategies for healthcare providers in the city.

Covering one million people this year

“It is great to see how everyone is putting people and patients in the center of our work. Already in the first full year of operations in Better Hearts Better Cities we plan to cover one million people across the three cities and three continents,” says Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation. “Our ultimate goal is to identify a scalable approach that is sustainable and replicable in other cities and for other chronic diseases.”

To find out more about Better Hearts Better Cities, visit

Join the conversation on social media with @NovartisFDN #BetterHeartsBetterCities #UrbanHealth


About the Novartis Foundation
The Novartis Foundation is a philanthropic organization which strives to have sustainable impact on the health of low-income communities through a combination of programmatic work, health outcomes research, and its translation into policy to address global health challenges.

About Better Hearts Better Cities
Better Hearts Better Cities is a Novartis Foundation initiative to improve cardiovascular health in low-income urban populations. Better Hearts Better Cities seeks to achieve this through a multisector approach addressing hypertension and its underlying risk factors in a sustainable way at scale.

Health context in São Paulo/Brazil
Today's urban health challenges are complex and a new approach to chronic disease management is needed. Changing lifestyles in urban communities are increasingly characterized by unhealthy diet, reduced physical activity, stress, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption: all risk factors for the development of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

One-third of São Paulo’s population live in the city’s lower income neighborhoods,[1] where access to quality public healthcare services is unequally distributed.[2] Only 32.4% of people in São Paulo are physically active, only 30% eat fruit or vegetables on a regular basis,[3] and more than half of the population is overweight.

Those living in cities are at risk of developing conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure), often called a “silent killer” because it has no obvious symptoms, but dramatically increases the risk of stroke or heart attack. 25.9% of people surveyed in São Paulo reported that they knew they were at risk of hypertension.[4] Even among people who have been diagnosed, treatment adherence remains extremely low: in São Paulo, only 20% of hypertensive patients take their medication on a regular basis.[5]

[1] World Bank. Improving Slums: Stories from Sao Paulo. Available at:

[2] Prefeitura de São Paulo (2017). Programa de Metas 2017 – 2020.

[3] Brasil Ministério da Saúde (2016). Vigitel Brasil 2016. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde, 2017.

[4] Lotufo, P. (2015). Cardiovascular diseases in Brazil: premature mortality, risk factors and priorities for action. Comments on the preliminary results from the Brazilian National Health Survey (PNS), 2013. Sao Paulo Med J. 133(2):69-72.

[5] Pierin et al. (2011). High blood pressure control and related factors at primary care located in the west side of the city of São Paulo, Brazil.