Being taken ill during a trip is not exactly anyone’s dream. It gets in the way of all the plans that have been made, and also creates a feeling of vulnerability, being far away from the family and from a known environment.
Thus, it is very important to be well-informed about the necessary procedures if you fall ill during your stay in Brazil. Here we present the essential information in this regard:
The Brazilian health system is universal and free of charge
Health is a constitutional right in Brazil. This means to say that no-one needs to pay to go to the doctor or to a hospital. Any procedure, from a simple suture to a highly complex operation, can be performed at no cost. This also holds for foreigners in Brazil, whether resident or not, including tourists. In other words, there is no need to prove that you have the means to pay to gain access to free medical treatment.
Hospitals, clinics and health centres are found in large numbers in major cities and also in a significant part of the countryside. There are also some private health care providers available for those who can pay or who have private health insurance cover.
This does not mean to say that the system is perfect: much to the contrary. The number of doctors, nurses and health institutions available is well short of demand, and this means that queues are very long in the public health sector. This can also not have the services of the best-prepared professionals or cutting-edge equipment. This is why many people prefer to migrate to the private sector for health care services.
What to do in case of an emergency
In the event of an emergency, telephone 192 from anywhere in Brazil. This telephone call is always free of charge, and shall directly activate the SAMU service, which is the Brazilian medical service that deals with medical emergencies. An ambulance shall be sent out to you, also free of charge, and you shall then be taken to the nearest Government hospital that is equipped to deal with your type of emergency.
If your case does not call for an ambulance, you can just walk into any Government hospital or health centre and ask for treatment. Your passport shall be enough to identify you, but you may have to wait for an interpreter to be found, if you do not speak Portuguese.
You can also ask for the support of the social services of the hospital, so that these services may contact and inform your family and friends, or even contact your Embassy or Consulate if this is necessary.
Vaccination is not mandatory
Even though the Brazilian Government does not ask for the presentation of a vaccination card to enter Brazil, it is still important that yours is up-to-date.
This is particularly important if you are going to areas near the Amazon Region or the Pantanal, where the yellow fever vaccine is highly recommended.