Has Brazil found the way to better health care?

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Excerpt from FSPH 6/3/15 press release

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Under Brazil’s family health program, when a woman learns that she is pregnant, she contacts her local community health agent, who often is a neighbor.

Typically, the agent visits her home to arrange an appointment with the neighborhood’s family health team, and the woman visits the health center for an assessment by a nurse assistant and a physician. During the pregnancy, if she misses a prenatal care appointment, the agent checks in on her at home and helps her reschedule her visit. Any prenatal medications she needs are provided free of charge.

Brazil — home to the world’s fifth-largest population and seventh-largest economy — has made rapid progress toward universal health care coverage through its national health system, the Sistema Único de Saúde, since it emerged from a dictatorship in 1985. In 1994, the health system launched an ambitious community-based, primary care approach called the Family Health Strategy, which is markedly different from systems in the U.S. and other nations.

A study led by UCLA professor James Macinko finds that Brazil’s primary care approach appears to be working quite well. The research is published in the current online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"This cost-effective way of delivering health care costs about $50 per person per year and has led to dramatic reductions in infant mortality rates, decreased hospitalizations due to complications of chronic conditions, and reduced deaths from stroke and heart disease, among a host of other benefits," said Macinko, a professor of Health Policy and Management and of Community Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

"And all of this took place in less than 20 years. It is a truly remarkable achievement," he said.

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Read the full article here: http://ph.ucla.edu/news/press-release/2015/jun/has-brazil-found-way-bett...