Ethical and political diversity in the right to health care in Brazilian municipalities along the MERCOSUR border

This article presents the results of a study in Brazilian municipalities along the border with the other Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) countries, identifying health care patterns and showing ethical and political diversity in the guarantee and use of the right to health care, characterizing demands on (and responses by) local health systems. The main variable was whether non-Brazilians had access to Brazilian health services. Data were collected using forms in municipalities with more than 10 thousand inhabitants, field diaries, meetings, and interviews. The definition of the right to health care varied greatly, indicating lack of common ethical and political principles and weak institutionality, with incapacity to absorb the demand by non-Brazilian patients. Agreements between the respective Federal governments of MERCOSUR countries had failed to reach the local level and were ignored by local health services managers and professionals. The foreign population remains uncertain about receiving care. In Brazil, the lack of uniform standards of care lead to ad hoc personal decisions by health services managers and professionals, thus hindering integrated action.

Right to Health; Health Services Needs and Demand; Border Areas; Health Policy

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