Objectives: We evaluated the effects of the Family Health Program (FHP), a strategy for reorganization of primary health care at a nationwide level in Brazil, on infant mortality at a municipality level.
Methods: We collected data on FHP coverage and infant mortality rates for 771 of 5561 Brazilian municipalities from 1996 to 2004. We performed a multivariable regression analysis for panel data with a negative binomial response by using fixed-effects models that controlled for demographic, social, and economic variables.
Results: We observed a statistically significant negative association between FHP coverage and infant mortality rate. After we controlled for potential confounders, the reduction in the infant mortality rate was 13.0%, 16.0%, and 22.0%, respectively for the 3 levels of FHP coverage. The effect of the FHP was greater in municipalities with a higher infant mortality rate and lower human development index at the beginning of the study period.
Conclusions: The FHP had an important effect on reducing the infant mortality rate in Brazilian municipalities from 1996 to 2004. The FHP may also contribute toward reducing health inequalities.