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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910


VANDERLEI, Lygia Carmen de Moraes  and  NAVARRETE, Maria Luisa Vazquez. Preventable infant mortality and barriers to access to primary care in Recife, Northeastern Brazil. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2013, vol.47, n.2, pp.379-389. ISSN 0034-8910.


Analyze the factors infl uencing avoidable infant mortality from the perspective of the protagonists involved.


Qualitative study with a critical-constructivist approach, examining children’s access to health care and avoiding preventable infant mortality through health care campaigns and services in Health District I of Recife, Northeastern Brazil, between February 2007 and February 2008. The theoretical sample was designed in two stages: I) institutions providing health services to children; II) interviewees: managers (11); professionals from the Family Health Strategy and Programme of Community Health Workers (48); and from outpatient clinics (12); mothers (20), with sample size defi ned by “saturation of the speeches”. Data was collected using individual semistructured interviews and case studies of avoidable infant death. Thematic content analysis was used, generating mixed categories (emerging and scripted).


There were perceived to be confl icting positions between different stakeholder groups refl ecting their role in the care network. All institutional participants related infant deaths to the absence/poor dissemination of child health policies and inter-sectoral actions; professionals and mothers highlighted diffi culties in accessing health care due to insuffi cient global resources, especially the lack of doctors in Family Health Strategy, shifting health care to nurses. Lack of doctors, acute diseases rejection, and dehumanized and/or poor technical quality care were the main factors which the mothers related to deaths. Family Health Strategy participants from the Programme of Community Health Workers and mothers identifi ed the condition of social exclusion and maternal neglect with deaths, but the case study of death revealed the association with lower quality of care offered.


Numerous barriers to access indicate insuffi cient the Brazilian Unifi ed Health System implementation and lack of resolution of the main access route, the Family Health Strategy. The results indicate the need for improvement of structural and organizational factors of supply, with emphasis on mechanisms to stimulate the recruitment of doctors for the Family Health Strategy professional training of all staff consistent with the model of care to comply with health care policies for children and avoiding preventable infant mortality.

Keywords : Infant Mortality; Health Services Accessibility; Quality of Health Care; Family Health Program; Health Inequalities; Qualitative Research.

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