My name is Dan and I am a student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. This summer I’m heading to Salvador, Brazil to study healthcare access and utilization for folks living in urban slums. Brazil is a vast, dynamic country, the birthplace of samba, bossanova, capoeira, and home to some of the world’s most fervent football fans. Brazil’s size and history make it complex as well as vibrant, particularly with regards to health. It is wealthy and socially conscious enough to have universal healthcare, but also has one of the world’s largest GINI coefficients (a measure of income inequality) and has nearly a quarter of its population living in slums.
My research is a qualitative project focusing on barriers to health care experienced by slum residents, particularly with regards to rheumatic heart disease, a condition that should no longer exist in Brazil. Rheumatic heart disease is a sequelae of strep throat infection that causes valvular dysfunction and death. It exists in Brazilian slums to a degree seen in much less developed countries, despite there being a universal healthcare system. My job is to help shed light on why and how this is (following up on the pilot project I did last summer in Salvador). By 2030 a quarter of the world’s population will be living in slums and we will need to understand how to better provide care. Brazil gives us an interesting and important case study.
I am equally excited and grateful to CGPH for making this research possible. Finally, many thanks to Drs. Lee Riley, Melissa Burroughs-Pena, and Ndola Prata for all their guidance and advising the past two years.