For anyone interested in reading about Brazil from a very objective point of view, I highly recommend the November 14th-20th, 2009 issue of The Economist, “Brazil takes off” A 14-page special report on Latin America’s Big Success Story.
Whoever wrote this article really did his/her homework, and managed to capture the details only a resident would notice. There is only one issue I did not fully agree on: the Brazilian health service.
When compared to that of the US, the Brazilian health service is paradise. I have actually canceled by useless private medical insurance because only the public health service offers free medication (which is otherwise unaffordable) and has the exact same doctors you would get in private health care. If you don’t mind the long waiting lists (a cat scan can take up to two months, unless it’s urgent), and the very early arrivals (attendance by order of arrival, which is a lot fairer than the private “someone-else-arrived-late-and-will-be-attended-before-you scheme), you will often be attended by a public service doctor far quicker than a private doctor. I once waited 2 hours in a doctor’s waiting room, compared to the 30 minutes in a public hospital.
Public hospitals and health services also have a far more humane air to them. A mentally challenged (that’s how we say it now, right?) man was found roaming the streets and taken to the Diadema Hospital in Sáo Paulo. He was treated and discharged, but did not know where he lived. They adopted him, fed him, clothed him and cared for him for 6 months, before his family saw him on a news programme and went to pick him up. Would that happen in the US? No.
Anyway, reprints of this great article are available at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 866 879 9144, ext 168 (from the US). If you are a subscriber, visit this link. Comments in Portuguese on this article can be found here, and comments on this article from the blog Eyes on Brazil can be found here.
Read it. It’s worth it.