Developing Countries May Offer Alternative Models for Delivering Health Services

October 10, 2006 @ 4:00 am

October 10, 2006

New York, NY – Launched in the early 1990s to address health disparities, Brazil’s national Program for Family Health (PSF) has one of the most comprehensive and multidisciplinary systems of medical care in South America. Vital to the program’s success has been the employment of agentes communitárias or community-based social workers, but little systematic knowledge is available on how they perform their work.  Dr. Rogério M. Pinto, an assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW), will be leading a pilot study on the role of social workers in the national program and their impact on the community. 

Funded by the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the study aims to examine the mechanisms through which the community social workers deliver health-related, in-home social work services to low-income families. The data collected will specifically focus on how the social workers deliver services, educate communities on prevention strategies, and raise awareness of social, health and environmental issues. Three socioeconomic areas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be targeted: Tanguá, Baixada Fluminense and Acarí.  

“Developing countries with limited resources are often forced to create innovative approaches to service delivery to address health issues,” says Dr. Pinto. “This project will contribute to knowledge building in social work practice from the perspective of a multidisciplinary team of health workers in a developing country. Our work will generate models of social work practice that can be used by educators worldwide in curriculum development, practicum instruction, and new methods for health-related practice.”  

Other collaborators in the project include Dr. Joseph R. Merighi, Associate Professor 
at the Boston University School of Social Work; Luíza Helena Nunes Ermel, Assistant Professor at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Rio de Janeiro, and; Angela V. Neves,Assistant Professor Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro. 

For more information or to interview Dr. Pinto, please contact Jeannie Yip at 212-851-2327 or