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Rio: Financial Crisis Leads to Chaos in the State's Health System

12/25/2015 - 10h14



Financial crisis in the state of Rio de Janeiro left hospitals without medical tapes and gloves, cotton and medicines to treat patients, even in emergency situations.

The crisis is a consequence of a debt contracted with suppliers, which equals R$ 1.4 billion (US$ 355 million).

The federal and municipal governments promised to help after health facilities were closed for nearly a week. Some of them had to be surrounded by planks to keep patients away.

In one day, the three spheres of government announced a US$ 75.42 million (R$ 297 million) aid for the state's healthcare.

The city of Rio lent R$ 100 million (US$ 25.4 million). The federal government transferred R$ 45 million (US$ 11.43 million) and promised to send basic items, such as medicine.

The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando Pezão (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party- PMDB), said he got extra R$ 152 million (US$ 38.6 million) for hospitals.

The federal government promised to provide R$ 90 million (US$ 22.85 million) by the first half of January.

The state claims that the collection of the tax on goods and services has declined since the beginning of the year and it has had a sharp reduction since October.

It also mentions the dent in public finances caused by the plunging price of a barrel of oil, one the state's revenue.

Rio's medical system collapsed after the government continuously failed to pay suppliers. As a result, basic items stopped been delivered and doctors began to turn away patients for lack of service conditions. Outsourced cleaning staff abandoned work due to unpaid wages.

The lack of funds affected 17 emergency facilities and seven hospitals, which were partially or totally closed in recent days.

The severe shortage in some of them led to extreme reactions. Dilson Pereira, director of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, made a police report over the matter to explain in advance the medical facility closure.

Rio's Women's Hospital and Getúlio Vargas Hospital were also closed down.

The court ruled that the state applies 12% of its budget on healthcare. According to the State Treasury Office website, the value invested in healthcare so far is 10% of the R$ 56 billion (US$ 14.2 billion) budget.


Governor Pezão said the state of Rio de Janeiro does not have funds to comply with all judicial decisions and that his administration will appeal against the decision that obliges the state to settle its obligations with employees and suppliers.

However, he said that doctors and nurses have already begun to receive their back pay.

Alberto Beltrame, named by the federal government to assist in Rio's healthcare crisis, believes it will take time to solve the problem. "A restructuring is needed. The normalisation of such a complex network doesn't happen overnight," said Beltrame.

The loan taken from the municipality is due on June 2016 and should be spent directly in Albert Schweitzer and Rocha Faria hospitals.


Read the article in the original language

Mauro Pimentel/Folhapress
Financial crisis left hospitals in Rio without medical tapes and gloves, cotton and medicines to treat patients
Financial crisis left hospitals in Rio without medical tapes and gloves, cotton and medicines to treat patients

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