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Revista Brasileira de Saúde Materno Infantil

Print version ISSN 1519-3829On-line version ISSN 1806-9304

Rev. Bras. Saude Mater. Infant. vol.19 no.4 Recife Sept./Dec. 2019  Epub Jan 13, 2020 


Wage and Citizenship

Malaquias Batista Filho1

Eduarda Ângela Pessoa Cesse2

1PhD em Saúde Pública. Bolsista nível 1-A do CNPq. Docente e pesquisador do Instituto de Medicina Integral Prof. Fernando Figueira. Rua dos Coelhos, 300. Boa Vista. Recife, PE, Brasil. CEP: 50.070-902.

2Doutora em Saúde Pública. Coordenadora Geral Adjunta de Educação da ENSP/Fiocruz/MS.

Taking in to account that Josué de Castro, a citizen of the world, at the time of the obsequies, was greeted by the Minister of Culture from France, André Malraux, as one of the first four names that pontificated ideas and movements in the Twentieth Century. He was a pioneer in Brazil and Latin America to perform the first survey on food, nutrition and living conditions of the factory workers' families in Recife in the first half of 1930. More precisely in 1932,1 when the country and the world were living na effervescence of tensions and political conflicts that, in 1938, World War II and its severeand extreme consequences were led to humanity.

However, surely the most potential and relevant fact is that the survey on the workers' family living conditions in Recife, brought together urban clusters of a few working class neighborhoods in the State of Pernambuco, published in na official Pernambuco government jornal, in a reduced bureaucratic space imposing itself as a successive State, Regional and National study representing Brazil and internationalizing the publication on "Geografia da Fome" (Hunger Geography) in 25 languages.2

Indeed, it was this original research that rapid lyrose the thresfold of importance by just giving reasons for its own justification for the minimum wage in Brazil in 1938, which went beyond the economic field established by the political and social parameters in defense of the workers, supporting a logic of which this could be defended as the first major line of daring (for the standards at that time) national policy on food, nutrition, public health and human rights.

It is noteworthy, not just for memorable reasons, a survey on the workers' families living conditions in Recife1 was indeed an ambitious holistic approach, conceptually but even revolutionary to he historical context of the region and country, reflecting the reality in which the workers and their families lived in, got sick, and died by evaluating the cost of housing, food, clothing, transport, education and health. In fact, it is inconceivable that a worker as in Charles Chaplin's classical film "Modern Times" is just a piece in the production of genes, if not, an element connecting a family unit that demands diverse and integrated cost as a reward for their work force and their own human condition. It was a historical struggle against the old resistance until the minimum wage in Brazil could gain status and citizenship rights.3

Obviously, its updated periodic requires a logical recycling and an ethical appreciation, even by virtue of changes in the economic, demographic, political, socio-environmental, and ethical dynamics (in the various continuous and integrated items of the preceding chain of events, succeeding and renewing itself in the cycles of life and history itself). By witnessess, events and reflections that marked his young idealist life, Josué de Castro, had an opportunity to see the minimum wage as an advanced achievement of higher governmental orbits and by the full society scale: the citizenship's symmetric rights and duties.

It is very illustrative as the evolutionary of cost and the demand of dynamics in a standard family, virtually unquestioned for dozens and dozens of years, assumed attributes to respond in instances various external and internal roles on each context, as flags on collective and economic life processes, cultural, political, ecological, co-participative, subjective and even spiritual. These are the processes that make up the doctrine of human development, consolidated with the participation of Josué de Castro and other international thinkers at the University of Paris 8.

Even now, the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística(IBGE) (Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute), which periodically generates results on household budgets, as the pioneer Josué de Castro had proposed and conducted before, a recent publication on preliminary data on Pesquisa Básica de Orçamentos Familiares(POF) (Basic Researchon Family budget) revealed a great change in the cost of its components that are distributed in a wide range of values, highlighting great alterations on qualitative and quantitative consuming, goods and services in Brazil, in the period of 2017/2018.4

Truly, the access to a limited range of goods and services has spread over time and geographical space as well because of external and internal factors that imply successive layers of stratifications and social functions given to new habits that succeeded within each stratum. So, when Josué de Castro described the workers' families first budget in Recife, food was 50% consumed by goods and services, defining that this would be for the following estimates such as, the percentage being applied for further calculations, which represents 12 food items and their monthly balance for the whole country. Although, the cost of basic food has declined substantially in relative terms, by suplanting by the cost of housing and transport.4 Brazil was essentially rural: 70-80% of its population lived in rural are as taking care of the agriculture and live stock. However, this portion has literally been reversed. Moreover, the twelve food items in the traditional food basket do not follow the same order. Nowadays, 70-80% of the adults in Brazil are overweight/obese, characterizing the socalled nutritional transition, statistically associated with type 2 diabetes mellitusand cardiovascular disease. Before, each couple had 5 to 10 children as a modal representation, but today families do not have even 2 children. In the composition of the population pyramid, the fastest growing strata are the middleand higher age and in a context of unresolved social issues includes poverty and exclusion, and high levels of inequality.5 The job market has changed the priority demands for health are different. In naturafoods have been replaced, largely and of tem with significant health damage, by industrialized products such as canned goods, saturated fats, beverages or solid sugary or salty food. It is another and largely na epidemiologically perverse reality, controlled by "marketing" of the food industry and the "comfortocracy" of physical in activity.

In this scenario, the block that Josué de Castro called with much ownership "fome oculta", (hidden hunger) has reappeared. This block consists of the emerging or reemerging deficiency diseases, such as vitamin D deficiency, zinc, selenium, iodine, besides those already well known and permanent, such as anemia emerges or simply remains in epidemiological registration panels.6 Many times this occurs to the committees "experts" surprise such as the public health managers and the society that rarely but not in frequently, are the last to know of its occurrence and illness, especially diseases of "fome oculta" (hidden hunger).

As a Journal scope on women, pregnant women and children's health epidemiology, we must not only retrieve but to enhance and have the opportunity to vision what our most respective social scientist of our country visualized.


1 Castro J. Condições de vida das classes operárias do Recife. Recife: Imprensa Industrial; 1932. [ Links ]

2 Castro J. Geografia da Fome. 11 ed. Rio de janeiro: Editora Gryphus; 1992. [ Links ]

3 Brasil. Decreto-lei n° 399, de 30 de abril de 1938. Rio de Janeiro, 30 abril 1938, 117º da Independência e 50º da República. [ Links ]

4 IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística). Pesquisa de Orçamentos Familiares POF 2017 - 2018. Coordenação de Trabalho e Rendimento. Rio de Janeiro; 2019. [ Links ]

5 IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística). Pesquisa nacional por amostra de domicílios: síntese de indicadores 2015. IBGE, Coordenação de Trabalho e Rendimento. Rio de Janeiro; 2016. [ Links ]

6 UNICEF (Fundo das Nações Unidas para Infância). The State of the world's children 2019. Children, food and nutrition: Growing well in a changing world. Disponível em: ]

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