Brazil aims to eliminate 14 diseases that afflict vulnerable populations

Brazil aims to eliminate 14 diseases that afflict vulnerable populations

The federal government intends to eliminate or reduce, as public health problems, 14 diseases and infections that affect, more intensely, populations in situations of greater social vulnerability. Such diseases are known as socially determined.

The decree establishing the Brasil Saudável program was signed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade, and published this Wednesday (7) in the Official Gazette of the Union.

Data from the ministry show that, between 2017 and 2021, socially determined diseases were responsible for the deaths of more than 59 thousand people in Brazil. The goal is to eliminate malaria, Chagas disease, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis and geohelminthiasis, as well as vertically transmitted infections such as syphilis, hepatitis B, HIV and HTLV.

The program also plans to reduce the transmission of tuberculosis, leprosy, viral hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. In total, 14 ministries must act on several fronts, such as combating hunger and poverty; expansion of human rights; social protection for priority populations and territories; qualification of workers, social movements and civil society and expansion of infrastructure and basic and environmental sanitation actions.

Priority municipalities

The federal government’s expectation is that more socially vulnerable groups are at less risk of becoming ill and that people affected by the diseases and infections covered by the program can undergo treatment appropriately, with less cost and better results.

The program identified 175 municipalities as priorities for having high burdens of two or more socially determined diseases and infections.


For the Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade, the action is strategic for the country and represents an important agenda. At the Healthy Brazil launch ceremony, the minister recalled that socially determined diseases, contrary to what many people think, are not caused by poverty, but by inequality.

In her speech, Nísia recalled that, when we talk about social determinants, we also talk about ethnic-cultural determinants. In the minister’s assessment, inequality impacts not only the 14 diseases listed by the ministry, but all types of illnesses – from chronic diseases to cancer treatment.

During the event, the director general of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Jarbas Barbosa, classified the program as ambitious and highlighted that the Americas have great leadership in the world in relation to the elimination of diseases such as smallpox and malaria. “There are important advances in the region.”

Jarbas recalled that, unfortunately, the covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on all health systems in the region and that inequity in the Americas remains tremendous. “It is, perhaps, the most unequal region in the world”, said the PAHO director, mentioning that we have, at the same time, the richest nation on the planet, the United States, and countries with social and political crises.

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also present at the ceremony, considered the initiative very important and highlighted the role of social movements. “They will give energy to this plan,” said Adhanom. “It cannot be done by the government alone”, he added.

“This plan is audacious. Really audacious. My favorite kind of plan, she joked.


Coordinated by the Ministry of Health, Brasil Saudável will have actions coordinated with the Science, Technology and Innovation portfolios; Development and Social Assistance, Family and Fight Against Hunger; Human Rights and Citizenship; Education; of Racial Equality; Regional Integration and Development; Social Security, Labor and Employment; Justice and Public Security; of Cities; of the women; of the Environment and Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples.

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