Public and private health care services in Brazil are considered to be ok, poor or terrible by 93% of the population, according to a survey carried out by a research institute at the request of the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) and the Medical Association of the State of São Paulo (APM).
Among the main problems named are waiting lists, no actual access to public services, and mismanagement of resources. The study also indicates that 87% of Brazilians view health care as the most important area, and 57% believe the government should regard the issue as top priority.
The research was conducted from June 3 to 10, 2014, and in it 2,418 adult respondents were heard all over Brazil. The data have reported that, as for Brazil’s free public healthcare system – the Unified Public Healthcare System, known as “SUS” – the most critical issues are related to the difficult and delayed access to services.
Over 50% of the people who have sought assistance at a public hospital reported difficulties, especially when the desired treatment entails surgeries, home care, and procedures like hemodialysis and chemotherapy.
As for the quality of the services provided by SUS, 70% said they were not satisfied with them. Dissatisfaction is at its deepest when it comes to emergency care.
At least 30% of respondent stated that either he himself or one of his family members is waiting for a procedure of some sort at a public hospital. Even among those covered by a health plan, 22% are on the SUS waiting list.
The data collected indicate that 20% of the people interviewed were served in up to a month’s time, whereas 29% have been on the SUS waiting list for over six months. The longest-waiting group is made up of women aging from 25 to 55 who finished primary school and live in the Southeast.
CFM President Roberto d’Avila said the survey shows dissatisfaction about health care as a whole. “It’s not [just] we doctors who keep saying the dissatisfaction is widespread. In our midst, we couldn’t be more certain that these services are not satisfactory. I’d go as far as to say they’re harmful,” he argued.
As a response, the Brazilian Health Ministry declared that the funds earmarked for the public healthcare system more than tripled over the last 11 years, which made a range of achievements possible, among which the inclusion of around 60% of the population in the coverage of the so-called Family Health teams; the access of 50 million Brazilians to the 14.4 thousand doctors through the government-run More Doctors program; the inclusion of 75% of the population in the Urgency Medical Service; and the operation of the world’s largest public system for transplants, with 95% of transplants being carried out by SUS.
The ministry further highlighted the vaccination coverage rate, which currently stands at over 90% and includes all the vaccines recommended by the World Health Association, along with the creation of over 16 thousand hospital beds with SUS as of 2011.
“It is important to make it clear that SUS’s management and funding are shared among the Union, the states and the municipalities,” the ministry added.