Objectives: To analyze health policy within the framework of the Unified Health System (UHS) and the challenges of health policy for health care personnel, especially social workers.
Methodology: Analytical and interpretive.
Results: The article describes the fundamentals of the UHS and notes that the concept of health is passing from the biological field to the political and historical construction of citizens rights.
Health must be linked to other political and social policies and have stable, assured financing. Innovations must be carried out on the judicial, political, and institutional levels as well as in the relationships among the state, markets, and public and private spheres in order to guarantee universality, equity, integration, regionalization, and the delineation of hierarchies.
The Brazilian governments neoliberal policies during the last decade have affected these principles. Such action by the government has converted the model of care from its focus on satisfying the immediate needs of the population into an aggregate of policies and programs lacking integration. Alienation and the fragmentation of work routines have contributed to a diminished sense of responsibility among health care workers and to weakened bonds between professionals and clients.
Within this scheme, social workers intervene at the point of confrontation between the rights of users and institutional regulations, in order to assure that rights are fulfilled and broadened.
Conclusions: To achieve progress in implementing the UHS requires the development of more responsive policies and a critical review of health professionals training.
Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico