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Profile: Brazil (excerpt)

In this South American country, access to health care is a citizen’s right

By Cynthia Underwood, Wichita State University, United States


Country: Brazil

Total Population: 198,739,269 (July 2009 est.) [1]

Population over age 65: 12,732,312 (6.4%).This breaks down to 7,358,082 women and 5,374,230 men (2009 est.). [1]

Estimated life expectancy: age 68.43 for men, age 75.73 for women, averaging to 71.99. [1]

Birth rate: 18.43 births/1,000 population (2009 est.) [1]

Death rate: 6.35 deaths/1,000 population (2009 est.) [1]

How are older-adult demographics changing? The number of people aged 65 to 74 are expected to grow 14% between 2010 and 2050. The amount of people aged 75 and older are expected to grow 20% between 2010 and 2050. [3]

The IBGE (Census Bureau) forecasts 13.7 million people will be over age 80 by 2050. [2]

Total expenditure on health per capita (International $, 2006): 765 [4]

How does the country address health care? Free health care is available for 70% of the population in Brazil. There are 27,000 family health teams active in nearly all of Brazil’s 5,560 municipalities. About 10,000 people are served through each family health team, which includes doctors, nurses, dentists, and other health workers. Feedback on health services are provided through community members. The Family Health Program is a public system established in 1994 that provides a full range of quality health care to families in their homes, at clinics, and in hospitals. [8]

Health care is human right in Brazil. The 1988 constitution enshrines health as a citizens’ right and requires the state to provide universal and equal access to health services to all of the country’s 190 million people, regardless of their ability to pay. Besides queues at hospital emergency departments, outdated and malfunctioning equipment, beds spilling into corridors, and scarcity of doctors and medicine in rural areas, Brazil’s national health system has been an outstanding success. [8]

In 2006, a descriptive study took place within the elderly population living in Brazil and in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The study showed the general population of those 70 to 79 years old had higher coverage. Self-management care plans covered a significantly higher proportion of elderly compared to the younger population in Brazil. Age groups over 70 years old in Brazil showed the highest coverage rates. [9]

To read the entire article, go to Active Aging Today. If you’re not a subscriber, subscribe now.

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