Barrio Adentro and the reduction of health inequalities in Venezuela: an appraisal of the first years

Int J Health Serv. 2009;39(1):161-87. doi: 10.2190/HS.39.1.h.


This article presents an update on the characteristics and performance of Venezuela's Bolivarian health care system, Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighborhood). During its first five years of existence, Barrio Adentro has improved access and utilization of health services by reaching approximately 17 million impoverished and middle-class citizens all over Venezuela. This was achieved in approximately two years and provides an example of an immense "South-South" cooperation and participatory democracy in health care. Popular participation was achieved with the Comités de Salud (health committees) and more recently with the Consejos Comunales (community councils), while mostly Cuban physicians provided medical care. Examination of a few epidemiological indicators for the years 2004 and 2005 of Barrio Adentro reveals the positive impact of this health care program, in particular its primary care component, Barrio Adentro I. Continued political commitment and realistic evaluations are needed to sustain and improve Barrio Adentro, especially its primary care services.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Health Care Reform* / methods
  • Health Care Reform* / trends
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation
  • Venezuela