Brazil Makes Big Improvements in health and equity

This week’s Lancet: Brazil shows the way to improved population health and equity. Key points:

·       … with an economic growth rate of 7.5% last year and a newly discovered oil field off its coast, Brazil is a country in demand as a political and economic partner.


·       Brazil now has an important and timely opportunity to cement its formidable health achievements towards its ultimate goal of universal, equitable, and sustainable health care to fulfill l the right to health enshrined in its 1988 constitution.


·       …  the recent political history of Brazil, with a military dictatorship until 1985, created the conditions for a strong civil-society movement that still flourishes today. That movement mounted a powerful drive for health reform, one that ultimately resulted in the Unified Health System (SUS)….[which includes] … health’s social determinants, education, poverty education, and preventive measures in the broader context of health as a human right.


·       A hallmark of the SUS is its promotion of community participation at all administrative levels.


·       From being one of the most unequal countries in the world in 1989, many achievements have been made during the past two decades. The SUS has vastly improved access to primary and emergency care. Brazil … a reduction in the number of underweight children by half—and the country is on track to meet MDG 4 (a two-thirds reduction in the mortality rate of children younger than 5 years).


·       Great progress has been made in reducing regional and socioeconomic inequalities and poverty. According to World Bank figures, poverty (at purchasing power parity of US$2 per day) has fallen from 20% of a population of about 190 million in 2004 to 7% in 2009.


This issue begins a series on Brazil’s health system. You may find the article at, but you must have a subscription to read it and the many other articles about Brazil.