Brazil Health Status and Health Care
Health Status and Health Care
Indicators of Health
In 1996 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which worked
together with the Applied Economic Research Institute (Instituto
de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada--IPEA), released its Human
Development Report 1995 for Brazil. Using an index based on
and other socioeconomic indicators, the report showed that Brazil
was in a medium human development position as compared with other
countries. It suggested that the national territory could be divided
into three parts, with standards of living similar to those found
in Belgium (the South and Southeast), Bulgaria (Center-West and
North), and India (Northeast).
As in the Human Development Report 1995 , infant mortality rates
(deaths of children less than one year of age per 1,000 live births)
often are used as indicators of living conditions. Since the denominator
is births, they are not affected by the population's age structure.
Because of underreporting of vital statistics, they must be estimated
from census data. The overall average infant mortality rate for
Brazil declined from 117 per 1,000 live births to eighty-eight,
according to the 1960 and 1980 censuses, respectively. The 1991
census showed that the rate dropped to 49.7 in 1991. In 1995 the
estimated rate was 44.4 per 1,000 live births.
As usual, national averages mask wide regional and socioeconomic
variations. As in previous decades, infant mortality levels in 1995
were lowest in the South, at 21.1, and highest in the Northeast,
where they reached 70.2, more than three times higher. In recent
decades, infant mortality generally has been higher in rural areas,
except for the poorest urban strata, whose mortality has been higher.
State infant mortality rates fluctuate from year to year, depending
on economic and public health conditions.
The sharp drop in infant mortality in recent decades did not necessarily
reflect a commensurate general improvement in living conditions.
To a large extent, the drop was the result of both the decline in
fertility, which decreases the risk of infant deaths for biological
and socioeconomic reasons, and specific health and sanitation interventions,
primarily use of oral rehydration and extension of piped water.
Data as of April 1997
See Also Brazil Medical Tourism