Health care for all in Brazil improves, but inequalities continue

Access to medical care for a large chunk of population in Brazil improved significantly, thanks to the combined Unified Health System and public policies, as seen on research published in the special edition of the International Journal for Equity in Health.

Health inequalities persist, however, stating further the need to eradicate the problem.

The papers condensed the established progress of Brazil in minimizing its traditionally big gap in health care access and status, and at the same emphasized the significant areas in need of additional efforts.

“By presenting this panorama together in one issue it is hoped that it will reinforce calls to strengthen health and social programs within Brazil and also contribute to the larger global conversation and burgeoning social movement to prioritize actions that tackle the social determinants of health and well-being,” James Macinko, a professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said in a statement.

Consisted of 14 papers, the study looked into the differences in the geographic regions of the country as well as its socioeconomically and culturally diverse population in terms of quality of life, health behaviors, health care access and use, injuries and violence, and chronic diseases.

While less likely to need help were the wealthiest, they were said to be over twice as likely to receive formal care as opposed to people in the lower socioeconomic groups.

On the other hand, the poor relied primarily on informal care given by family and friends, the study found.

Forty-five percent of adult population in Brazil reported to have at least one non-communicable illness such as hypertension, chronic kidney failure, and diabetes, with greater frequency among women, persons over 55 years old, illiterate persons or those who didn’t complete elementary education, and people in the southern, southeastern, and central-western regions of the country.

It also discovered that injuries incurred from road accidents were highest in the poorest regions such as the Central West, Northeast, and North.

Found were significant contributions involving motorcycle injuries, especially among brown-skinned or black males aging 18 to 29 who drink alcohol and have less than a secondary education.

Using data from the Brazilian National Health Survey in 2014, it offers the first-ever comprehensive study of inequalities in health in Brazil.

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