García, Juan C. Ciências sociais em saúde na América Latina. [The social sciences in health inLatin America.] In: Nunes, Everardo D. (org.). Juan Cesár García: pensamento social em saúde na América Latina. [Juan César García: social thought in health inLatin America.] São Paulo: Cortez Editora / Associação Brasileira de Saúde Coletiva; 1989. p. 148-158.

Objectives: Employing the format of a self-interview, Juan César García answers questions about the founding and development of Latin American social medicine and its European origins.

Methodology: Analytical and interpretive.

Results: The author describes the field of scientific knowledge that concerns itself with social aspects of the health-disease process and of healthcare

services. This field has been given a diverse set of labels that imply a number of variations in the object of study: social medicine, social sciences applied

to health, medical sociology, and medical economics, among others.

The author describes the European historical background along with the meaning of the term “social medicine”. The author explains how the designation social medicine was diffused through seminars that, during the decade of the 1950s, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) organized in different countries in order to reformulate the teaching of preventive and social medicine and to modernize education in Latin American medical schools. The author reviews projects promoted by PAHO, the Milbank Fund, and the Rockefeller Foundation to study medical education inLatin America and to introduce reforms.

The author analyzes the development of the social and political movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s that, in theThird World, brought about a questioning of established institutions and proposed alternative forms

of organization that took into account the conditions specific to these countries. These processes enabled social medicine to become autonomous. Beginning in this period, three distinct areas of medical practice and education were created: public health, social medicine, and social and preventive medicine.

Conclusions: This short article provides a historical characterization of the development of Latin American social medicine.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico