Health and sanitary conditions in Brazil vary widely from region to region. The big cities have many physicians who have trained abroad. In smaller towns and interior areas of Brazil however, there is a shortage of doctors, nurses and hospitals. While Brazil offers a public health care system, its coverage is not extensive. The quality and promptness of public health care is not as good as the service offered by private health care. State-of-the-art facilities are available for those who can afford them.

For the 60% of the population using the public health care system, service is limited to basic immunization and emergency care. There is also a shortage of hospital beds, making it difficult for most Brazilians to get medical treatment.

Drinking dirty water, inadequate sewage disposal, poor housing conditions and widespread malnourishment cause most diseases. More than one-half of the people of Brazil are poorly fed.
Did you know?

There are 12 million abandonados, children without parents or homes, in Brazil.

In the Amazon basin tropical diseases such as yellow fever and malaria are common. In this region, travelling bus clinics and riverboat hospitals provide immunization and other medical help. Many babies die soon after birth. The death rate is highest in the northeast and in the favelas, the slums, of the large cities. Children born to mothers who live in favelas are six times more likely to die than those whose mothers can afford to go to university. Programs have been established to improve health conditions in the favelas, particularly for prenatal and infant health care.
The spread of HIV and AIDS in Brazil has been rapid, resulting in 40,000 known cases to date. Brazil has the third highest rate of AIDS in the world. In many instances, the spread of this disease can be traced to Brazil's poorly regulated blood supply. This means people are being exposed to the disease through tainted blood transfusions. Due to a low level of government health care funding, the system is not equipped to treat people suffering from AIDS.