|dc.description.abstract||Introduction: Brazil and South Africa share many sociodemographic and health features that
provide many learning opportunities. Brazil’s national health system, the Sistema Único de
Saúde (SUS) prioritises primary health care since 1994, the year democracy came to South
Africa. Two family physicians from these countries met in Rocinha favela in Rio de Janeiro, a
densely populated area where poverty, danger, drugs, tuberculosis and mental illness are the
focus of the health system.
Maria do Socorro Family Clinic: Central to the SUS are the Family Health Teams, consisting
of community health workers, nurses, doctors and allied health workers. This clinic in Rocinha
has 11 teams, caring for 2700 people each, all visited monthly, preventing illness and promoting
health. Patients with mental illness are cared for in a therapeutic residency, with an onsite
psychiatrist, psychologist and social worker. The relationships between the health carers and
the clinic and the community are collegial and equal, sharing care. Larger than life photos of
patients from the community line the walls.
Training: A culture of learning is evident, with 18 family medicine residents, student nurses, a
small library and a learning centre at the clinic. Local authorities compensate trainees in family
medicine more than traditional specialties.
Conclusion: Brazil has made massive progress in providing universal health coverage over
the last 20 years. South Africa, with not too dissimilar challenges, is embarking on this road
more recently. The lessons learnt at clinic and community level in this inner-city clinic could be
very useful for similar settings in South Africa and other countries.||en_ZA