Dialogues between indigenism and Health Reform: discursive bases of the creation of the indigenous health subsystem

Ana Lucia de Moura Pontes Felipe Rangel de Souza Machado Ricardo Ventura Santos Carolina Arouca Gomes de Brito About the authors


On September 23, 1999, the indigenous health subsystem was created within the scope of the Unified Health System. In this work, we analyze the discursive bases of convergence and conflicts between indigenist discourses and the health reform, which allow us to reflect on this process which we consider a ‘long’ indigenous health reform. We used as reference the perspective of Stephen Ball’s theory, to analyze documents produced by indigenist actors (National Indian Foundation - Funai, Indian Missionary Council - Cimi and Union of Indigenous Nations - UNI) and the Health Reform Movement. We point to evidence of indigenous and indigenist use of arguments and proposals for sanitary reform and, on the other hand, the strategic involvement of Sergio Arouca in indigenous health events. The points of convergence are located mainly in the critique of the biomedical model, the approximation of primary care proposals, and the concept of health. Conflicts were mainly related to the operationalization of the subsystem, but the indigenist discourse, contrary to municipalization, found in the district process a proposal legitimized in the Health Reform.

Health of indigenous people; Health policy; Heath care reform

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