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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


ALMEIDA, Patty Fidelis de; FAUSTO, Márcia Cristina Rodrigues  and  GIOVANELLA, Lígia. Strengthening primary health care: a strategy to maximize coordination of care. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2011, vol.29, n.2, pp.84-95. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To describe and analyze the actions developed in four large cities to strengthen the family health strategy (FHS) in Brazil. METHODS: Case studies were carried out in Aracaju, Belo Horizonte, Florianópolis, and Vitória based on semi-structured interviews with health care managers. In addition, a cross-sectional study was conducted with questionnaires administered to a sample of FHS workers and services users. RESULTS: Actions needed to strengthen primary health care services were identified in all four cities. These include increasing the number of services offered at the primary health care level, removing barriers to access, restructuring primary services as the entry point to the health care system, enhancing problem-solving capacity (diagnostic and therapeutic support and networking between health units to organize the work process, training, and supervision), as well as improving articulation between surveillance and care actions. CONCLUSIONS: The cities studied have gained solid experience in the reorganization of the health care model based on a strengthening of health primary care and of the capacity to undertake the role of health care coordinator. However, to make the primary care level the customary entry point and first choice for users, additional actions are required to balance supplier-induced and consumer-driven demands. Consumerdriven demand is the biggest challenge for the organization of teamwork processes. Support for and recognition of FHS as a basis for primary health care is still an issue. Initiatives to make FHS better known to the population, health care professionals at all levels, and civil society organizations are still needed.

Keywords : Primary health care; family health program; organization and administration; Brazil.

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