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Brazil Government New Health Offer

said.

Brazil already distributes 254 million free condoms a year, many as part of an anti-AIDS program that makes a special effort just before each year's Carnival celebrations. Brazil also has handed out the morning-after pill and regular contraceptives at government pharmacies for years.

Under the newly expanded program, regular contraceptives will be offered at commercial drug stores for sale at just $2.40 for a year's supply.

Abortions are the fourth leading cause of maternal death in Brazil after hypertension, hemorrhages and infections. There are an estimated 800,000 illegal abortions in Brazil each year, and about 4,000 women die from such procedures annually.

Temporao political influence is from the socialist health reform movement. Being faithful to his political root he has now taken on the beer industry and global pharmaceutical companies.

He has proposed limitations on beer consumption and advertising it in order to crack down on heavy drinking.

He faced a lot of opposition when he when he criticized popular samba singer Zeca Pagodinho's frequent appearances in ads for Brahma beer.

Dora Kramer, a prominent columnist for the conservative Estado de S.Paulo, newspaper gave Temporao her seal of approval and called him an asset to the Lula government.

"It's a relief to see and hear the new health minister," she wrote. "He speaks about what concerns him, has a stand on controversial issues, and he doesn't curry favour."

His policy of distributing free drugs and condoms in his new AIDS program angered the international drug company Merck. Merck offered to cut the price of its AIDS drug Efavirenz to about $1 per pill but Temporao decided to break Merck's patent and buy a cheaper substitute from India.

His blunt style is reaching beyond national borders as he tries to spread Brazil's experience in the fight against AIDS. Tem
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