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In Pursuit of Health Equity: A History of Latin American Social Medicine

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Throughout Latin America, social medicine has been widely recognized for its critical perspectives on mainstream understandings of health and for its progressive policy achievements. Nevertheless, it has been an elusive subject: hard to define, with puzzling historical discontinuities and misconceptions about its origins. Drawing on a vast archive and with an ambitious narrative scope that transcends national borders, Eric D. Carter offers the first comprehensive intellectual and political history of the social medicine movement in Latin America, from the early twentieth century to the present day.

While maintaining a consistent focus on health equity, social medicine has evolved with changing conditions in the region. Carter shows how it shaped early Latin American welfare states, declined with the dominance of midcentury technocratic health planning, resurged in the 1970s in solidarity against authoritarian regimes, and later resisted neoliberal reforms of the health sector. He centers socialist and anarchist doctors, political exiles, intellectuals, populist leaders, and rebellious technocrats from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and other countries who responded to and shaped a dynamic political environment around health equity. The lessons from this history will inform new thinking about how to achieve health equity in the twenty-first century.


ISBN-13: 9781469674452

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press

Publication Date: 08-08-2023

Pages: 308

Series: Studies in Social Medicine