Documentary by Silvio Tendler defends the effectiveness of SUS – Cultura

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“Health has a cure” highlights the importance of the Brazilian public vaccination program, which provides 300 million doses (photo: Caliban/disclosure)

“Health has a cure”, a documentary by director Silvio Tendler, defends the importance of the Single Health System (SUS), the only one in the world that serves 190 million people free of charge. the largest public organ transplant program on the planet, financing 95% of procedures in Brazil.

Dr. Drauzio Varella, one of the interviewees, says that the big problem of the 20% of the population that has a health plan is believing that they do not need the SUS.

“The ideal of any middle-class person is to make a covenant. When this happens, no matter how cheap the plan is, she thinks she will never put her foot in the SUS again. However, we are now seeing that the situation is different. In several Brazilian cities, private beds were sold out and it was the public system that served many citizens, making the importance of SUS evident”, she defends.


Annually, SUS vaccinates 10 million children against polio in just one day. The system makes 300 million doses available free of charge to the population.

“In developed countries, the government supports part of the national vaccination programs, but the other part of the private initiative, such as insurance. In Brazil, free for everyone”, highlights Akira Homma, former president of Fundao Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz).

Filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic and produced with the support of Fiocruz, the documentary interviewed users, health professionals and representatives of civil society.

”The largest universal public system with the lowest proportion of public funding in the world. No public system in the world has less than 70% funding. In Brazil, it corresponds to 45% of total health expenditure”

Carlos Gadelha, PhD in economics

The model and actress Tarcinara Vieira says that she was cured of tuberculosis thanks to the SUS. “I got all the medicines I needed and none was missing during the six months of treatment. If the SUS did not exist, I would not be here, because my mother and I were unemployed and would not be able to afford the medicine.”

The feature film shows the historical helplessness of the population in terms of public health. At the end of the 19th century, the treatment of diseases took place through favors or charitable institutions. In the 1920s, workers with a formal contract and contributors to social security began to have access to the social protection system.

In 1963, during the João Goulart government, during the 3rd National Health Conference, the creation of a unified system was discussed. “It was the first time that there was talk about municipalization, health as a right. Social security medicine was moving in one direction and the public system was moving in the other”, comments doctor Ligia Bahia, a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).


The military dictatorship, starting in 1964, financed businessmen in the health sector to build hospitals with the objective of buying these services, via social security. “At the end of the military regime, allegations of fraud were intense”, says Ligia.

The redemocratization process led to the implementation of the SUS, guaranteeing health as a right for all and a duty of the State, as determined by the 1988 Constitution.

The implementation of the system never followed the strict law. Weaknesses became even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It starts with the need to have a funding base and political support. the largest universal public system with the lowest proportion of public funding in the world. No public system in the world has less than 70% funding. In Brazil, it corresponds to 45% of total health expenditure”, explains Carlos Gadelha, PhD in economics.

Despite this, the SUS, through research, care, prevention programs, vaccination campaigns and drug distribution, provides access to cancer treatments, hemodialysis sessions, major surgeries, implants and hospitalizations in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). ), for example.

“At the university hospital where I work, we built an ICU in 20 days, with 100% SUS resources. I see a SUS that resists a lot. With all its weaknesses, gaps and flaws, it has enormous potential. Without a doubt, it is the greatest asset that the Brazilian people have in their hands”, says Pedro Carvalho Diz, a member of the National Network of Doctors and Popular Doctors.


“Usually, we only see pictures of crowded corridors, of people who died in the queue, of people who didn’t get an exam. Often, the SUS boils down to the hospital and the queue in the hallway. In fact, they want to forget that the SUS is much bigger. There is a great policy and discourse that invalidates him and personifies him as a great villain”, emphasizes the doctor Pedro Carvalho.

Nadine Clausel, director-president of the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, defends that the State ensure resources for the system.

“With the loss of jobs and income, people were no longer able to pay the agreements and, consequently, the SUS ended up covering an even larger contingent of dependents. The public health system should be a state policy with protected budget, regardless of who is in government,” he says.

* Intern under the supervision of assistant editor ngela Faria


Documentary by Silvio Tendler. 95m Available on Caliban Cinema’s YouTube channel.

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