In the process of consolidation of the Single Health System (SUS) in the city of São Paulo, the decentralization comprised, among other measures, the creation of 39 Health Districts and the qualification on management of basic health units. Such course emerged as one of the proposals for the organization of services. The I SUS - UBS Management Specialization Course -SMS-SP (GERUS) was carried out in 2002 in the southern area of the city by the Health Municipal Authority and the School of Public Health/USP. The objective of the study was to collect the perceptions of managers on the role of management of the basic health units within a densely populated water source area presenting infrastructure problems and social exclusion. Qualitative approach was used and the data gathering was carried out by means of focal group and analysis of the resulting reports and the self-evaluations. Three categories were defined for analysis: being a manager in the decentralization context, the role of management in the basic health units and the contribution of GERUS for the strengthening of the managerial role. It was observed that GERUS was a qualification process that enabled the broadening of managerial role and the developing of technical competency for the re-organization of services. The qualification proved positive both at personal and institutional levels. There are, however, other problems that qualification alone is neither aimed at nor capable of solving. A pedagogical process of such nature demands that concomitantly to the qualification there is political commitment towards change.
Health Service Management; Decentralization; Health Managerial Qualification