In Defence of Mais Medicos


According to the World Bank, Brazil has just 1.8 doctors for every 1000 people. The figure for neighbouring Argentina is 3.2, whereas in countries such as Spain, Switzerland and Norway the figure reaches 4.0 and above. In Brazil’s larger metropolitan areas the figure is higher than the national average, but in many rural areas the figure is much lower, effectively falling to zero in some 700 municipalities. Matters are complicated further by the country’s profound social inequality, and access to medical care is highly conditional upon one’s ability to pay. Unlike in Europe, public services in Brazil were never seriously intended to be universal; rather, they serve as a kind of deposit for those unable to pay their way through the private sector. Even in the richer cities of the south and southeast, the public health system is severely underfunded, understaffed and overcrowded, unable to compete with a private sector…

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