The role of social organizations in promoting health: Experiences of social participation in response to the pandemic

The role of social organizations in promoting health: Experiences of social participation in response to the pandemic
people in pandemic

DATE:      Tuesday, 3rd of May, 2022

TIME:    13:30 -15:00 (EDT) 


The Americas region has been hit hard 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 that focus 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 both 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. Then, a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health and municipalities of Costa Rica, with the support of PAHO’s office in the country, which aimed to promote community participation for shared management of the pandemic between the community and government institutions, will be presented. An articulated response with primary care was promoted as part of this initiative, giving central relevance to the community as the main actor. The initiative was also evaluated.

The case studies on Brazil and Colombia were elaborated under the guidance of PAHO’S Health Promotion and Social Determinants of Health Unit in the Department of Family, Health Promotion and Life Course (HP/FPL) and they are part of an effort to explore participatory mechanisms in response to the pandemic promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO), Country Readiness Strengthening Department. These regional reports and analysis were produced as part of WHO Global Pilot Initiative on Strengthening the Engagement of Civil Society Organizations in the response to COVID-19, which was coordinated by PHE Department (Health Emergencies Department, PAHO/WHO) for the region of the Americas, with the support and collaboration of HP/FPL.  

This is the last session of the online series on Knowledge Sharing of Working with CSOs to mitigate COVID-19’s impact—WHO Pilot Initiative: Working with Civil Society to mitigate COVID-19’s impact - PAHO/WHO | Pan American Health Organization

This event will have simultaneous interpretation to English, Spanish and Portuguese.



Presentation of the webinar

Gerry Eijkemans, Unit Chief, Health promotion and Social Determinants of Health (PAHO/WHO)


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


Brazil: Barriers and Facilitators for civil society engagement in a participatory and integrated response to the pandemic and other emergencies.

Richarlls Martins, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz)


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

Mauricio Torres Tovar, Universidad Nacional de Colombia


Costa Rica: Community participation as the pillar of Primary Health Care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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



  • Marjorie Aily Pailanca Opazo, indigenous association NEWEN WAKOLDA
  • Nellie Kartoglu, Technical Officer,  Country Readiness Strengthening WHE, WHO
  • Orielle Solar, Regional Advisor on Social Determinants of Health PAHO/WHO, WDC)




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


Closing remarks

Andrés de Francisco, Director, Department of Family, Health Promotion & Life Course (PAHO/WHO, WDC)