Healthcare in Brazil

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Healthcare across Brazil is varied
Healthcare in Brazil is available at both public and private institutions. Permanent residents are able to get access to free public healthcare at any of the government hospitals.

However, the quality of service in the public healthcare sector tends to be sub-standard, and those who can afford it, including expats, choose to rather make use of private medical facilities.

Public healthcare in Brazil

Public hospitals in Brazil are usually the responsibility of individual state governments, while the federal government oversees general policy. Public medical care, including hospitalisation, doctors’ visits and prescription medicines, is free under the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS).

However, public hospitals in Brazil are uniformly overcrowded and underfunded, and English-speaking doctors aren't always available, especially in hospitals outside of the main metropolitan areas.

Private healthcare in Brazil

Although most expats find private healthcare in Brazil to be of a higher standard than public healthcare, it comes at a cost. In fact, private healthcare in Brazil has earned the reputation of being the most expensive in Latin America in recent years.

The range of specialists available in Brazil depends on the city. Larger cities have a variety of practitioners to choose from but fees are also higher, whereas smaller towns are cheaper but there are fewer options.
Brazil is beginning to make its mark as a health tourism destination, particularly in the field of cosmetic surgery. Foreigners have also been travelling to Brazil for dental work.

Pharmacies in Brazil 

There are many pharmacies (farmácia) in Brazil, particularly in the larger cities and towns. Most general and prescription medicines are available at pharmacies and the government continues to invest large amounts in the production of generic drugs to reduce the impact on consumer’s wallets.
Pharmacies are generally open from early morning to well into the evening, and some pharmacies in the larger cities are open 24 hours a day.

Health insurance in Brazil

Because of the massive costs associated with private healthcare, health insurance is vital for expats in Brazil.
Many expats choose to use Unimed health insurance, which is one of the most popular health plan operators in Brazil. Other large insurance providers used by expats include Bupa, Pacific Prime and Allianz.

Health hazards in Brazil

Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, remains a risk in Brazil, particularly in the tropical regions during the rainy season. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever, and expats should ensure that they take adequate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

There have been cases of Zika in Brazil. Like dengue fever, the Zika virus is transmitted by mosquito bite and has no vaccine. It can also be transmitted via sexual contact with an infected individual. 

Pre-travel vaccinations for Brazil

Expats should ensure that all routine vaccinations are up to date, including MMR, tetanus and typhoid.

Emergency services in Brazil

A general public ambulance service is available throughout the country. This is free to all residents and can be contacted on 192.
Most major private hospitals also have their own ambulance services, which can be called directly in the case of an emergency.

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