Obituary: Dr Eudes de Freitas Aquino

The global co-operative movement paid tribute to one of its most ardent champions, a leading light of Brazil’s healthcare sector

“Sincere”, “humble”, “generous” and “deeply human” are some of the words colleagues used to describe Dr Eudes de Freitas Aquino, who passed away on 9 March at the age of 72. Dr Eudes had been hospitalised over the past two months due to illness caused by an ischemic stroke suffered in November 2020.

A true character, he liked to tell jokes to put a smile on people’s faces and treated everyone equally, from executives to technicians and housekeepers.

“He was loved by everyone on his team,” recalls Antonina Guarrella, events and office coordinator at the International Cooperative Alliance.

A renowned nephrologist (kidney specialist), Dr Eudes was involved in the Brazilian co-operative movement for more than 35 years. He was president of the health co-operative Unimed Piracicaba and Fundação Unimed, and was advisor to the president of Unimed Federação São Paulo. Prior to that, he had served as a board member of the International Cooperative Alliance, president of the International Health Cooperative Organisation (IHCO) and president of Unimed Brasil. 

He had a degree in clinical medicine (nephrology) from the Ribeirão Preto Medical School in Sao Paolo, a postgraduate degree in advanced business management in health and an MBA in health services management from the Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation in São Paulo.

While at the helm of Unimed, he was included in Forbes Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in Brazil, his co-operative being the only one to have a representative on the list. He was also featured in the Healthcare Management magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the healthcare sector in Brazil.

“A man of humility, he was always kind, generous and very supportive,” said IHCO in its tribute. “He will long be remembered with respect and gratitude. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, co-workers and everyone whose life was touched by Dr Eudes.”

ICA president Ariel Guarco said: “We received with great regret the news of the death of Eudes de Freitas Aquino. His leadership and dedication left an indelible and lasting mark not only in the contemporary history of the Brazilian co-operative health movement, but also in the history of the relationship between Brazil and the international co-operative movement.

“Eudes de Freitas Aquino was a great supporter of the cause of the co-operative movement. With wisdom and foresight he made great contributions to promoting co-operative values ​​and principles. Like many co-operators, I am personally grateful for his firm support, always tinged with hope and humanism.”

Unimed’s board also paid tribues to Dr Eudes, praising his contribution to strengthening the country’s health co-operatives.

“An excellent defender of the co-operative movement, Eudes wrote an admirable story in the years he was with us, deeply marking all those who had the privilege of counting on his wisdom, experience and friendship,” read Unimed’s statement.

It added: “In this moment of sadness, we regret his absence, but we also celebrate his life and his contributions, extending our deep feelings to his family, friends and colleagues.”