Medicine as a political act

Medicine as a political act

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Gabriella Caroline Andrioni, a twenty-one-year-old female and fifth-year medical student at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, in the interior of Brazil. It is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), a cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article belong strictly to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor that of The European Sting.

System. Guaranteed by the Federal Constitution of Brazil in 1988, the “Sistema Único de Saúde” (SUS), a complex network of health care services and policies, provides from health surveillance to the treatment of rare diseases, free of charge and for the whole population.

Even if it is idealized for the formation of a Brazil without inequalities, the SUS currently faces the attraction of a country where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and everyone loses in terms of it. health.

Cumulatively over the last twelve months, inflation is estimated at 7.7% in Brazil(1), resulting in a decline in families’ purchasing power and an increase in severe food insecurity, which affects approximately 15.5% homes across the country this year(2). With the need for food, cheaper processed foods were favored over fresh foods among the poorest population. This leads to malnutrition and lower health potential in young people. The number of overweight children increased last year(3), as did those with marked thinness(4), and the hospitalization of people up to 14 years old due to diabetes reached a record high in 2021( 5).
As poverty-related health problems increase, the federal government’s health budget decreases. According to the “Lei Orçamentária Anual de 2023”(6), health in Brazil will have the lowest budget of the last 10 years next year. The cuts range from indigenous health assistance to the provision of high and low cost free medicines, a complete breakdown in the universality, comprehensiveness and equity of health.

It is in the political and social struggle for the permanence of principles that medical students are part of. The social participation of medical students in the defense of health for all in Brazil is old. The “Reforma Sanitária” and the creation of the SUS are a legacy of the public articulation of civil society groups, including sociologists, politicians, doctors and students, who tried to build a new possibility of life in within the military dictatorship in the 1970s.

It is necessary to learn, during graduation – a period in which it is possible to devote time solely to health studies -, about the political and economic formation of the Brazilian health system. From there, the medical student can understand what the country’s public health policies are and at what level they are located, managing to more effectively claim the priority of some and avoid the disruption of others.

Taking as an example the issue of food insecurity of children in Brazil, we have linked as a priority the public policy of integral care to the health of children, that the public policy of food and nutrition and the public policy of burden of chronic non-communicable diseases – the last two with a budget cut for 2023. Having access to this information and integrating it into the activity of a public health worker makes medicine a political act and opens the door to a Brazil less unequal in its future.


(1): Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. Inflation Brazil, IBGE. Available at: (Accessed: October 24, 2022).
(2): Olhe para a Fome. Available at: (Accessed: October 24, 2022).
(3): Obesity and as DCNT. Available at: (Accessed: October 24, 2022).
(4): Childhood thinness and obesity are worsening in the country. To know. Available at: (Accessed: October 24, 2022).
(5): “Espoca-bucho” with sausage, recipe for getting sick from food. Piauí magazine. Available at: (Accessed: October 24, 2022).
(6): 2023 annual budget. Ministry of the Economy. Federal government. Available at: (Accessed: October 24, 2022).

About the Author

Gabriella Caroline Andrioni is a twenty-one-year-old woman and a fifth-year medical student at the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, in the interior of Brazil. She is made of curiosity and touched by sensitivity in social relations. For this reason, participates in all the university extensions she can find and always takes the time to do research between courses. She believes in a universal, free and quality health system and seeks it.

#Medicine #political #act

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *