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Brazil's health care system vastly expands coverage, but universality, equity remain elusive
Date:5/10/2011

Two decades after Brazil's constitution recognized health as a citizen's right and a duty of the state, the country has vastly expanded health care coverage, improved the population's health, and reduced many health inequalities, but universal and equitable coverage remains elusive, experts from four major Brazilian universities and New York University have concluded.

According to their analysisone of six articles published in the medical journal The Lancet as a special series on health in Brazilwhile federal expenditures have nearly quadrupled over the past 10 years, the health sectors' share in the federal budget has not grown, resulting in constraints on health care financing, infrastructure, and human resources.

The paper's co-authors were: Jairnilson Paim of the Federal University of Bahia; Claudia Travassos of Center for Communication, Scientific Information and Technology at the Oswaldo Cuz Foundation; Celia Almeida of the National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation; Ligia Bahia of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; and James Macinko, an associate professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

After more than 20 years of a military dictatorship, Brazil created its present constitution in 1988, which included health as a right of citizenship. Health care reform in Brazil, then, occurred under unique circumstances--simultaneously with the process of democratization and spear-headed by health professionals along with civil society movements and organizations.

To meet this constitutional guarantee, the country established the Unified Health System, or Sistema nico de Sade (SUS), which was based on the principles of universality, equity, integrality, and social participation. The SUS, which serves more than 192 million citizens, is supplemented by private insurers, which cover about 25 percent of Brazilians.

Overall, the Brazilian hea
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Contact: James Devitt
james.devitt@nyu.edu
212-998-6808
New York University
Source:Eurekalert

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