Between 19 and 28 June, Latin American and European researchers gathered for the VII International Workshop of the Equity-LA II project in Montevideo and Colonia (Uruguay). Equity-LA II is a 48-month research project that focuses on how fragmented local health systems in Latin America could be better integrated. ITM is one of the two European partners of this research project.
The Equity-LA II project assesses different strategies to improve coordination and ensure the continuum and quality of care in integrated health care networks (IHN) in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. Equity-LA II adopts a quasi-experimental design combined with a participatory action research approach. Health professionals, health care managers, users, policy makers and researchers are involved during all stages of the project.
Representatives of the six study countries presented the implementation process as well as the main facilitators and barriers encountered at each site. A common finding is that the interventions aim to strengthen the core of the public health services (i.e. coordination and quality of care) but they are embedded in neoliberal contexts that are aiming to privatise the whole system. The action-research methodology and its iterative and participative process proves to be a powerful tool to develop a common mindset at the local health system level, allowing the teams to row against the current of neoliberal policies. The project allows us “to know and to recognise each other again”, said a representative of one of the local committees in Chile. Equity-LA II, indeed, allows creating common spaces of discussion and mutual capacity development, where health providers from the first and second level of care work together to strengthen the coordination and communication between them and, therefore, to improve their referral and counterreferral systems.
Equity-LA II is financed by the European Commission as a collaborative project for the Specific International Cooperation Action (SICA) of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7): Cooperation and Health. At ITM, Prof. Bruno Marchal and Dr. Ariadna Nebot are currently working on the project.
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