The Role of Social Organizations in Health Promotion: Experiences of Social Participation in Response to the Pandemic – PAHO/WHO

DATE: Tuesday, May 3, 2022

WEATHER: 1:30-3:00 p.m. (EDT)


The Americas region has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a profound social, economic and health impact on all countries in the region. At the same time, the pandemic has created opportunities for closer engagement with community and civil society organizations. Organized social actors are builders of healthier and more equitable societies, and their role in responding to emergencies such as that caused by COVID-19 is highlighted.

This webinar will present different experiences focusing on the role of social participation in the response to the pandemic. To this end, two case studies carried out in Brazil and Colombia on the responses and repertoires of collective action developed by social organizations in rural and urban contexts, including quilombola communities and favelas in Brazil, as well as urban communities and peasant organizations in Colombia, will be analyzed first. These studies were part of an effort promoted by the Department of Strengthening Country Preparedness of the World Health Organization (WHO) to explore participatory mechanisms in the response to the pandemic and were conducted under the direction of the Promotion and Health Promotion of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Social Determinants of Health Unit. Then, a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health and the municipalities of Costa Rica, with the support of the PAHO office in the country, which aimed to promote community participation for a shared management of the pandemic between the community and the government institutions, will be presented. An articulated response with primary care has been promoted as part of this initiative, giving central importance to the community as the main actor. The initiative was also evaluated.


1:30-1:35 p.m.

Presentation of the webinar

Andres de Francisco, Director, Department of Family, Health Promotion and Life Course (PAHO, WDC)


Antia Castedo, Consultant Health Promotion and Social Determinants of Health (PAHO, WDC)

1:35-1:50 p.m.

Brazil: Obstacles and facilitators to civil society engagement in a participatory and integrated response to the pandemic and other emergencies.

Richarlls Martins, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz)

1:50 p.m.-2:05 p.m.

Colombia: Lessons learned from community experiences in Colombia in response to the pandemic.

Mauricio Torres Tovar, National University of Colombia


Costa Rica: Community engagement as a pillar of primary health care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gustavo Mery, Advisor on PAHO Health Systems and Services (Costa Rica)

2:20-2:35 p.m.


  • Regional social worker (to be confirmed)
  • Nellie Kartoglu, Department of Strengthening Country Preparedness (WHO, Geneva)
  • Orielle Solar, PAHO Social Determinants of Health Regional Advisor, WDC)

2:35-2:50 p.m.


2:50-2:55 p.m.

Video: Interview with Magda Gomes, social leader of the “A Rocinha Resiste” collective, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2:55-3:00 p.m.

Closing remarks

Gerry Eijkemans, Head of Unit, Health Promotion and Social Determinants of Health (OPS)

About Matthew Berkey

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