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The future of the Brazilian Health System: a short review of its pathways towards an uncertain and discouraging horizon

This article reflects on the future of the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS, acronym in Portuguese), based on the foresight exercises conducted by the Brasil Saúde Amanhã initiative of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. The text briefly reviews some paths followed by the SUS as referred to in the Federal Constitution of 1988. It highlights the movement towards the decentralization of care and the constraint of health financial resources that reduced policies of increasing public expenditures. It examines the public and private arrangements for financing and provision of services that have resulted in sectoral privatization, mainly from economic policies articulated with concession of fiscal benefits. It analyzes the changes in the public sector financing through successive constitutional amendments that resulted in the weakening of established social protection policies, particularly of the health sector. For the future, the text considers population aging and analyzes trends in the epidemiological profile, with consequent changes in the health care paradigm. The article concludes by pointing out the consequences of fiscal strangling in the organization of the healthcare system and the need to reverse legal provisions that hamper the fulfillment of the constitutional mandate for equity and universality.

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  • José Carvalho de Noronha
  • Gustavo Souto de Noronha
  • Telma Ruth Pereira
  • Ana Maria Costa