Think You Know Brazil?

by Otávio Clark | Aug 13, 2018

Brazil is known for its paradisiac beaches, extraordinary biodiversity, and welcoming people. However, there is much more to see in this beautiful tropical country. Brazil is a country marked by a great duality, in which extreme opposites live side by side.

In the past few years, Brazil has emerged as one of the core growth markets in the world. Brazil is the largest country in South America, covering 47% of the continent, and also its largest economy, with a GDP per capita of approximately US $13,000. But its disparities are almost as big. In some states, the GDP per capita can be as high as US $22,000 (as in the case of the Federal District), or as low as US $3,100 (as in the case of Maranhão, located in one of the poorest regions of the country).[1]

This unequal income distribution impacts the health of the population – and the healthcare system.

For example, the country recently faced outbreaks of dengue fever, yellow fever and Zika virus – health problems that don’t discriminate between affluence and poverty. And we are still struggling to tackle these diseases. But at the same time, obesity and health problems linked to it, like diabetes and heart disease, are on the rise – and these are problems traditionally seen in more developed countries.

Despite all of these issues, the country has managed to improve its health indicators in recent years. The child mortality rate[2] significantly decreased, from 4% of the total deaths recorded in 2005 to 2.5% in 2015. And it is still decreasing. Life expectancy is on the rise. In 2000, a Brazilians’ life expectancy at birth was 69.8 years, and it rose to 75.5 years in 2015 – an increase of 5.7 years.[3]

A dual healthcare system

Brazil also faces another duality in its healthcare financing system. The country has a public healthcare system which is free and universal. However, many Brazilians pay for additional private health insurance. The public healthcare system covers 75% of the population, and the private covers 25%. Incorporation of new technologies also differ between these two systems: while the private system can be more prone to adopting new technologies and providing easier access to services, incorporating them in the public system has been challenging and slow, mainly due to the lack of government budget.

Also, the expenditure on health in Brazil is extremely low. The country invests approximately 7% of GDP in health and, of this total, 4% is directed to the private sector (which treats less than 45 million people) and 3% to the public sector (which treats more than 160 million people). Over time, this has caused a deep gap in patient care, with some patients having access to the latest technologies and treatments and some not.

Despite these difficulties, the public healthcare system has managed to develop some high quality programs. The AIDS, hepatitis, and vaccination programs from the Brazilian public sector have been cited as models for the rest of the world.

Looking to the future

Brazil has many challenges to face in the health area. Financing the costs of new technologies may be the greatest of them. New products (some of them very expensive) to treat diseases with better efficacy are constantly arriving, and payers struggle to find efficient ways to allocate money. This is even more complicated in the case of the public system, where the budget is more limited.

The hope for the future is that the gap in access between the private and the public healthcare systems decreases considerably. The public-private partnership (PPP) will help to improve this scenario, not only by developing new technologies but also by financing them in the public sector, thus expanding access.

Lastly, Brazil is still a land of opportunities for those seeking valuable data. Conducting clinical trials can help in the development of new technologies and in access to them, and the Brazilian government has been making an effort to streamline the approval process. For having a unique healthcare set, real-world research (RWR) in the country is also extremely interesting. It can benefit patients with access to new treatments, healthcare personnel with education and training, and the market in general with new insights.

Read more in Kantar Health's latest Edge of Insight report – Inside the Growth Markets, where we take an in-depth look at today's most attractive healthcare growth markets – China, Brazil, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Central and Eastern Europe – and detail what steps you can take to achieve commercial success.

Feel free to reach out to me at info@kantarhealth.com.

[1] Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística – IBGE, 2010

[2] Children aged up to 1 year/ Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística – IBGE, 2017

[3] Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística – IBGE, 2017

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