Valla VV. Educação popular, saúde comunitária e apoio social numa conjuntura de globalização. [Popular education, community health, and social aid in the context of globalization.] Cadernos de Saúde Pública [Public Health Notebooks] (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) 1999; 15(Supl. 2):7-14.

Objectives: To analyze popular education, community health, and social aid in light of the processes of globalization and of the health crisis in Brazil .

Methodology: Analytical and interpretive.

Results: The author analyzes the crisis that policies of globalization and practices imposed by international lending agencies have produced in countries such as Brazil . The author analyzes some experiences of organized groups who have made demands on Latin American governments, and the lack of responses to these demands,..

The author takes into account how the population has managed to organize itself and to find common solutions to the problems it confronts. This situation opens the possibility of a complementary path, which is to continue pressing demands for the equitable distribution of public monies while at the same time creating alternative organizations and responses. Social aid is defined as whatever information and material assistance offered by identified groups or individuals brings positive emotional and/or behavioral outcomes. Such processes produce a sense of coherence and control over life, which benefit health.

The proposal for social aid is not seen as a sure solution, or cure-all, but as a springboard from which to revise the relationship between health and medical care. Social aid offers the possibility of realizing prevention via solidarity and mutual assistance. It also makes possible the creation of arenas for group discussion about groups’ taking control of their own destiny and their exercise of autonomy with respect to the medical power structure in health.

Conclusion: The concept of social aid helps guide the endeavors of marginalized groups in this time of deep crisis.

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