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Open Access Research article

Impact of the Family Health Program on the quality of vital information and reduction of child unattended deaths in Brazil: an ecological longitudinal study

Davide Rasella*, Rosana Aquino and Mauricio L Barreto

Author Affiliations

Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Federal University of Bahia, Rua Basílio da Gama s/n - Canela, 40. 110-040 Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:380  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-380

Published: 29 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Vital information, despite of being an important public health instrument for planning and evaluation, in most of the developing countries have still low quality and coverage. Brazil has recently implemented the Family Health Program (PSF), one of the largest comprehensive primary health care programs in the world, which demonstrated effectiveness on the reduction of infant mortality. In the present study we evaluate the impact of the PSF on mortality rates related to the quality of vital information: the under-five mortality rate due to ill-defined causes and unattended death.

Methods

Data on mortality rates and PSF coverage was obtained for the total 5,507 Brazilian municipalities from 2000 to 2006. A multivariate regression analysis of panel data was carried out with a negative binomial response by using fixed effects models that control for relevant covariates.

Results

A statistically significant negative association was observed between PSF coverage levels, classified in none (0%, the reference category), low (<30.0%), intermediate (≥ 30.0% and <70.0%) and high (≥ 70.0%), and all analysed mortalities rates, with a reduction of 17% (Rate Ratio [RR]: 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.79 - 0.88), 35% (RR: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.61-0.68) and 50% (RR: 0.50; 95% CI: 0.47-0.53) on under-five mortality due to ill-defined causes, respectively. In the mortality rate for unattended death the reduction was even greater, reaching 60% (RR: 0.40; 95% CI: 0.37-0.44) in the municipalities with the highest PSF coverage. The PSF effect on unattended deaths was slightly stronger in municipalities with a higher human development index.

Conclusions

The PSF, a primary health care program developed mostly in rural and deprived areas, had an important role on reducing the unattended deaths and improving the quality of vital information in Brazil.