The reach of health and social protection policies for the homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
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Research Group of Health and Social Protection Policies, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Rene Rachou Institute, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil
Rene Rachou Institute, Brazil
Research Group of Health and Social Protection Policies, Rene Rachou Institute, Brazil
Research Group of Health and Social Protection Policies, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation / Rene Rachou Institute, Brazil
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A370
Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the homeless populations (HP) vulnerability. The study of targeted policies is necessary to improve response and ensure “no one is left behind” following the sustainable development goals (SDG). Brazil has a National Public Health System (SUS) and a National Social Protection System (SUAS), and both were active during the pandemic. Belo Horizonte (BH) is Brazil’s third-largest city, and it is known to have a robust SUS and SUAS. The town was an example of the emergency and preparedness response, reducing potential death. However, the reach of the initiatives to vulnerable populations wasn’t assessed. Objective: This study investigated the effectiveness of health and social protection initiatives during the pandemic tailored for HP in BH. Methods: A mixed method study was conducted, including the statistical analysis of HP, who received care during the pandemic, and a content analysis of the discourses collected. Primary data was collected through in-depth interviews and focus groups with policymakers, workers, and HP. The secondary data analyzed used a linkage of the city’s electronic health records and the database for social protection beneficiaries (cadunico). Results indicated the implemented policies reached the HP; however, important access barriers were observed for SUAS existing services. Despite the initial decrease in consults, sus continued to care for the HP, followed by an increase in HP with respiratory symptoms attended by primary care units. The social isolation housing for symptomatic HP was a successful new initiative jointly coordinated. Strong Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) participation was identified as the primary support during the city lockdown. Conclusions: The emergency and preparedness initiatives implemented during the pandemic reached the HP, with an NGO’s support, attending to SDG principles. Collaborative governance and infrastructure were key to reaching HP.