Health in Brazil

Health Indicators[1][2][3][4][5]
Life expectancy 75.2
Infant mortality 14
Fertility 1.76
Sanitation 77%
Smoker 14.8%
Obesity female 18.3%
Obesity male 8.7%
Malnutrition 6%
HIV 0.6%

According to the Brazilian Government, the most serious health problems are:[6]

In 2002, Brazil accounted for 40% of malaria cases in the Americas.[7] Nearly 99% are concentrated in the Legal Amazon Region, which is home to not more than 12% of the population.[7]

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of the Brazilian population increased from 69.66 years in 1998 to 74.6 years in 2012, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).[8] The data indicate a significant progress compared with 45.50 years in 1940. According to the IBGE, Brazil will need some time to catch up with Japan, Hong Kong (China), Switzerland, Iceland, Australia, France and Italy, where the average life expectancy is already over 81. Research has shown that Brazil would achieve that level by 2040.[9]

Demographic projections foresee the continuation of this process, estimating a life expectancy in Brazil around 77.4 years in 2030. The decline in mortality at young ages and the increase in longevity, combined with the decline of fecundity and the accentuated increase of degenerative chronic diseases, caused a rapid process of demographic and epidemiologic transition, imposing a new public health agenda in the face of the complexity of the new morbidity pattern.[10]

Infant mortality

Cândido Fontoura Children's Hospital, São Paulo.

Child health is a central issue on the public policy agenda of developing countries. Several policies geared to improving child health have been implemented over the years, with varying degrees of success. In Brazil, such policies have led to a significant decline in infant mortality rates over the last 30 years. Despite this improvement, however, mortality rates are still high by international standards and there is substantial variation across Brazilian municipalities, which suggests that differentiated policies should be devised. For example, mortality among indigenous infants in 2000 was more than triple that of the general population, highlighting the importance of tailored health policies to address disparities in health outcomes for Brazil's Indigenous Peoples.[11] Sanitation, education and per capita income are the most important explanatory factors of poor child health in Brazil.[12] Moreover, ethnographic findings of infant mortality rates (IMR) in northeast Brazil are not accurate because the government tends to overlook infant morality rates in rural areas.[13] These issues tend to be inaccurate due to a huge amount of underreporting and causes us to question the cultural validity and the contextual soundness of these mortality statistics. There is a solution to this issue however and scientists stress that quality local-level cultural data can serve to craft as the alternative and appropriate method to measure infant death in Brazil accurately. In order to not overlook infant mortality rates it is also stressed that there needs to be a focus on an ethnography of experience, a vision that cuts to the core of human suffering as it flows from daily life and experiences. For example, one must get down to the flesh, blood and souls of infant death in the impoverished households of Brazilians in order to understand and live with those who have to suffer its tragic consequences. Methods of gathering mortality data also need to be respectful of local death customs and must be implemented in places where death is experienced through a different cultural lens.[14]

UNICEF report shows a rising rate of survival for Brazilian children under the age of five. UNICEF says that out of a total of 195 countries analyzed, Brazil is among the 25 nations with the best improvement in survival rates for children under the age of 5. The report shows that Brazil's infant mortality rate for live births in 2012 was 14 per thousand. Mortality rates for children at one year of age was 18 per thousand, a reduction of 60%. The study went on to show that malnutrition among children of less than two years of age during the period between 2000 and 2008 fell by 77%. There was also a substantial drop in the number of school age children who were not in school, falling from 920,000 to 570,000 during the same period. Cristina Albuquerque, coordinator of the UNICEF Infant Survival and Development Program called the numbers "an enormous victory" for Brazil. She added that with regard to public policy aimed at reducing social disparities, Brazil's Bolsa Família program had become an international benchmark in combating poverty, reducing vulnerability and improving quality of life. "Brazil is going through a great moment, but much remains to be done. So, along with the celebrating it is a good time to reflect on the many challenges still to be overcome," Albuquerque declared.[15]


Portuguese Beneficent Hospital, in Manaus.

Obesity in Brazil is a growing health concern. 52.6 percent of men and 44.7 percent of women in Brazil are overweight. 15% of Brazilians are obese.[16][17] The Brazilian government has issued nutrition guidelines [18] which have caught the attention of public health experts for their simplicity and their critical position towards the food industry.[19] The guidelines are summarized at the end of the document as follows:

  1. Prepare meals using fresh and staple foods.
  2. Use oils, fats, sugar, and salt only in moderation.
  3. Limit consumption of ready-to-eat food and drink products.
  4. Eat at regular mealtimes and pay attention to your food instead of multitasking. Find a comfortable place to eat. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets and noisy, stressful environments.
  5. Eat with others whenever possible.
  6. Buy food in shops and markets that offer a variety of fresh foods. Avoid those that sell mainly ready-to-eat products.
  7. Develop, practise, share, and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
  8. Decide as a family to share cooking responsibilities and dedicate enough time for health-supporting meals.
  9. When you dine out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes. Avoid fast-food chains.
  10. Be critical of food-industry advertising.

See also

External links


  1. Health Indicators of Brazil and the World
  2. Total fertility in Brazil - 2008
  3. Life expectancy in Brazil (2012) (English)
  4. Infant Mortality in Brazil (2012) (Portuguese)
  5. Smokers in Brazil (2011) (Portuguese)
  6. Ministério do Planejamento website, "Saúde" (fact sheet, 2002). Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  7. 1 2 "World Health Organization: Brazil: Malaria" (PDF).
  8. From the IBGE's Complete Mortality Tables for Brazil's population, which have been published annually since 1999. They are used by the Ministry of Social Security as one of the parameters for the retirement fund factor under the General System of Social Security.Life Expectancy in Brazil (2008)
  9. Demographic projections in Brazil
  10. Coelho, V; Shankland, A. (2011). "Making The Right To Health A Reality For Brazil's Indigenous Peoples: Innovation, Decentralization And Equity". MEDICC Review. 13 (3). Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  11. History - Infant Mortality - Brazil
  12. Nations, Marilyn K.; Mara Lucia Amaral (1991). "Flesh, Blood, Souls, and Households: Cultural Validity in Mortality". Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 5 (4): 204–220. doi:10.1525/maq.1991.5.3.02a00020.
  13. Nations, Marilyn K.; Mara Lucia Amaral (1991). "Flesh, Blood, Souls, and Households: Cultural Validity in Mortality". Medical Anthropology Quarterly 5 (4): 204-220.
  14. Infant Mortality in Brazil (2009)
  15. Malafaia, Sandra (April 4, 2012). "Excesso de Peso Atinge Quase Metade da População Brasileira". ABESCO. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  16. Glickhouse, Rachel (July 30, 2012). "Supersized Brazil: Obesity a growing health threat". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  17. Ministerio de saude (2014). "Guia Alimentar Para a Populacao Brasileira" (PDF). Ministerio de saude. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  18. Barton, Adriana (16 March 2014). "Brazil takes an unambiguous new approach to fighting fat". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
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