Brazil: Public Health, Race, and Human Rights

"My experience at SIT helped me understand various aspects of health in a different setting. SIT support, especially through the Independent Study Project, enabled me to begin an exploration of Afro-Brazilian adolescents' self-images. After my Fulbright, I aspire to establish a nonprofit organization to serve low-income African-American preteens."

—Program alum Kyasha Moore, Spelman College, Fulbright Recipient


Investigate healthcare realities, policy, and delivery systems among disadvantaged groups in the Brazilian state of Bahia.

The Brazil: Public Health, Race, and Human Rights program provides an in-depth exploration of healthcare policies in Brazil — how these policies are constructed and implemented and their resulting impacts on different groups and communities. Through lectures, seminars, site visits, and ongoing engagement with local practitioners and patrons in the healthcare system, students are completely immersed in the complexities of healthcare in Brazil. In particular, students focus on the intersections between race and health, and between health and human rights.

Alongside their exploration of Brazil’s formal healthcare system, students also study traditional Afro-Brazilian healing practices in both urban and rural areas, especially those practices rooted in the Candomblé spiritual belief system.

Students learn from physicians and nurses, government health officials, political activists, representatives of international NGOs and multilateral agencies such as the United Nations, urban and rural residents, herbalists, and Candomblé healers in the Brazilian northeast.

The program is based in Salvador, the capital of Bahía and the largest city in the Brazilian northeast. Of Salvador's 2.8 million residents, approximately 80 percent are of African descent. Salvador is an ideal base from which to explore issues of public health, community welfare, and social justice in Brazil, given its tremendous diversity.

Brazil’s northeast region is home to some of the poorest areas in the southern hemisphere. Within this region, students have three homestays with families from very different socioeconomic backgrounds.

The program also includes educational excursions to socioeconomically diverse areas.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Academic Director Damiana de Miranda Brazil Public Health, Race, and Human Rights academic director Damiana de Miranda was awarded the Prêmio Mulher Guerreira Maria Felipa along with other black women in Brazil in recognition of her activities to improve the social inclusion of Afro Brazilians. The prize was created by the City Council of Salvador to celebrate Black Women’s Day. Congratulations, Damiana, on this great honor and for all the public health and community support you extend to others.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Salvador

Language Study: Portuguese

Prerequisites: None


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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