Cadernos de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1678-4464
GERSCHMAN, Silvia. Municipal Health Councils: activity and representation of grassroots communities. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2004, vol.20, n.6, pp. 1670-1681. ISSN 1678-4464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X2004000600026.
This article was based on the results of research concerning health policy in municipalities that achieved the most extensive development of decentralization and innovation in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The study applied a questionnaire for health system users' representatives in Municipal Health Councils. The central issues were: the Councils' political role; social control by the Councils, viewed as surveillance by organized society over government actions; the nature of social representation exercised by the Council members; and the type of mandate they serve. Community representatives in the Councils reinforce aspects pertaining to the exercise of representation in unequal societies. There is a predominance of a differentiated elite consisting of older males with more schooling and higher income than the community average. The notion of "social control" as the basis for the Councils is difficult for the members to grasp. Exercise of representation is diffuse, occurring by way of designation by community associations, election in assemblies, or designation by institutional health policy agencies.
Keywords : Health Policy; Health Councils (SUS); Social Control Policies.