Boise State political scientists research health care in Brazil

Brazil can work to improve health care outcomes, particularly related to dengue fever, the Zika virus and infant mortality. | File photo
Boise State political scientists Brian Wampler and Mike Touchton are researching how participatory government in Brazil can work to improve health care outcomes, particularly related to dengue fever, the Zika virus and infant mortality.

“Elected officials often support citizen participation because it provides them the legitimacy necessary to alter spending patterns, develop new programs, mobilize citizens, or open murky policy-making processes to greater public scrutiny,” Wampler and Touchton wrote in a recent blog post. “Civil society organizations and citizens support participating institutions because they get unprecedented access to policy-making venues, public budgets and government officials.”

Brazil presents an ideal environment for Wampler and Touchton’s research, as it is a new democracy that has been experimenting with new democratic institutions and social policy delivery for the past 20 years. The country also uniformly collects data across its municipalities, which as provided the researchers with a dataset covering 5,500 municipalities for 13 years, from 2000-13. That dataset shows that a growth in citizen participation in institutions has a positive association with healthcare outcomes.

When considering public health challenges like infant mortality, dengue fever or the Zika virus, these participatory systems work by having policy council board members receive information on the available public health services, which they can then disseminate to the relevant community members.

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