This article investigates the issue of funding and the decentralization process in order to examine the composition, application and management of resources in the healthcare area. The sample surveyed involved 14 municipalities in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. The research involved data gathering of financial transfers, the municipality's own resources and primary healthcare expenses. Management analysis included a survey of local managers and counselors. It was seen that the Unified Health System is funded mainly by federal transfers and municipal revenues and to a far lesser extent by state resources. Funds have been applied predominantly in primary healthcare. The management process saw centralization of actions in the city governments. Municipal secretarial offices and councils comply partially with legislation, though they have problems with autonomy and social control. The results show that planning and management instruments are limited, due to the contradictions inherent to the institutional, political and cultural context of the region.
Health funding; Decentralization; Public health policies; Health management