Social Change and Health Policy in Venezuela


  • Carlos H. Alvarado Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela
  • María E. Martínez Universidad Central de Venezuela
  • Sarai Vivas-Martínez
  • Nuramy J. Gutiérrez Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Salud
  • Wolfram Metzger Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingem


Venezuela, Barrio Adentro, Progressive Health Reform


This work reviews social changes occurring in Venezuela during the last two decades, examining how they led to the development of a new health policy. Initially, the political context of the nineties is examined; this was a time when the neoliberal politics of the 1980’s had a demonstrable impact on the living conditions and health status of the population. By 1999 social and political events led to a new Constitution which provided the juridical and legal framework for a new health policy. The conceptualization of health and the model of health care which arose from the constitutional process are considered, as well as the reaction of the dominant economic and political sectors to the new policies imposed by constitutional mandate. The emergence of Barrio Adentro and other social missions is analyzed as an essential factor in the initiation of structural changes within the country and its health institutions. The Barrio Adentro program is described in detail, along with key steps in the development of the Venezuelan National Public Health System. Finally, the impact of these new health policies on the quality of life of the Venezuelan population is delineated.

Author Biographies

Carlos H. Alvarado, Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela

MD, Specialist in Occupational Health, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation,, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Lecuter in Occupational Health; Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela, Centro de Estudios de Salud Colectiva y Derecho a la Vida

María E. Martínez, Universidad Central de Venezuela

MD, Public Health, Masters in Social Practice and Health, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Cátedra de Salud Pública; Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela, Centro de Estudios de Salud Colectiva y Derecho a la Vida,

Sarai Vivas-Martínez

Ph.D, Epidemiology, Universidad Central de Venezuela; Lecturer in Public Health, Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela, Centro de Estudios de Salud Colectiva y Derecho a la Vida

Nuramy J. Gutiérrez, Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Salud

MD, Specialist in Gynecology and Human Reproduction, , Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Salud, Hospital Cardiológico Infantil Latinoamericano “Dr. Gilberto Rodríguez Ochoa”

Wolfram Metzger, Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingem

Specialist in Tropical Medicine, Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingem. Institut Fur Tropenmedizin sektion humanparasitologie






Special Section: Progressive Health Reforms in Latin America