Health System and Education


The Brazilian public health system, the Unified Health System, is administered and provided by all levels of government, being the largest system of its kind in the world. On the other hand, private health systems play a complementary role.

Public health services are universal and are offered free of charge to all citizens of the country. However, the construction and maintenance of health centers and hospitals are financed by taxes, and the country spends around 9% of its GDP on expenses in the area. In 2012, Brazil had 1.85 doctors and 2.3 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants.

Despite all the progress made since the creation of the universal health care system in 1988, there are still several public health problems in Brazil. In 2006, the main points to be resolved were the high rate of infant mortality (2.51%) and maternal mortality (73.1 deaths per 1,000 births).

The number of deaths from noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases (151.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants) and cancer (72.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants), also has a considerable impact on the health of the Brazilian population. Finally, external but preventable factors, such as car accidents, violence and suicide, caused 14.9% of all deaths in the country. The Brazilian health system ranked 125th among the 191 countries evaluated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000.


The Federal Constitution and the Law of Guidelines and Bases of National Education determine that the Union, the states, the Federal District and the municipalities must administer and organize their respective educational systems. Each of these public education systems is responsible for its own maintenance, which manages the funds, as well as the mechanisms and sources of financing. The constitution reserves 25% of the state budget and 18% of federal and municipal taxes for education.

According to the IBGE, in 2011, the literacy rate of the population was 90.4%, which means that 13 million (9.6% of the population) are still illiterate in the country; Functional illiteracy has reached 21.6% of the population. Illiteracy is highest in the Northeast, where 19.9% ​​of the population is illiterate.

Higher education begins with bachelor’s or sequential courses, which can offer different options of specialization in academic or professional careers. Depending on the choice, students can improve their academic education with postgraduate or broad-sense courses.

Attendance at a higher education institution is required by the Law on Guidelines and Bases of Education. Kindergarten, elementary and middle school education is required for all students, as long as the student does not have any disabilities, be it physical, mental, visual or auditory.

The University of São Paulo is the second-best university in Latin America, according to the recent rankings of QS World University in 2019. Of the 20 best Latin American universities, eight are Brazilian. Most of them are public.