SUS and user rights

The Unified Health System – SUS – is the name given to the Brazilian health system, which consists of a set of health actions and services provided by public and private bodies and institutions, in addition to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The word “Unique” comes from the unification of public and private healthcare systems.
The SUS is considered one of the greatest social achievements in Brazil, its institution was based on the persistent struggle at the base of Brazilian society, mainly through the movement called “Movimento Sanitarista”. The demands of this movement were presented at the 8th National Health Conference, held in 1986. The resolutions of this conference guided the parameters contained in the Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988, which says: “health is everyone’s right and the state’s duty”, with with the aim of promoting social justice and overcoming inequalities in the area of ​​access to health. Before 1988, the public health system served only those who contributed to Social Security, so those who did not have enough income did not have access to the public health system and depended on charities.

With the creation of SUS, the health system is no longer just federal and undergoes decentralization, also becoming state and municipal. In addition, the public health service, which previously aimed only at medical and hospital care, now has a broader vision: health promotion, protection, recovery and rehabilitation.

According to the Constitution, SUS is based on 5 basic principles:

– Universality: health is everyone’s right and the duty of the State, the latter must provide the necessary means for citizens to exercise their right. This principle guarantees service to any Brazilian, regardless of gender, color, age, financial condition, religion, ethnicity, among others, including foreigners.

– Comprehensiveness: every citizen has the right to comprehensive care, with priority given to preventive activities, without prejudice to assistance services. Therefore, it is the duty of the State to promote preventive and curative actions, covering all levels of complexities.

– Equity: according to the Constitution “all are equal before the law, without distinction of any kind”, therefore all citizens must have equal access to health. This does not mean equal spending, as it is also the State’s duty under the Constitution to “reduce social and regional inequalities”, therefore poorer regions with less access to health should receive more investments.

– Decentralization: “public health actions and services are part of a regionalized and hierarchical network and constitute a single system, organized according to the following guidelines: I – decentralization, with a single direction in each sphere of government […]”, and each federative level (Union, States, Federal District and Municipalities) has its role and duty, constituting a single and integrated system.

– Popular participation: also called social control, it concerns the participation of users in the formulation and control of this health system through Health Conferences, which take place every 4 years. Another form of participation is the Health Councils, which are present at all levels of the system: Union, States, Federal District and Municipalities and are composed of representatives of the Government, service providers, health professionals and users on an equal basis. The purpose of these councils is to monitor, control, supervise, change and propose health policies.

How to access the public health system?

The SUS recommends that access to health be done preferably in Primary Care services, which are health centers, health posts, family health units and basic health units or similar closest to your home. To find out about the health establishments in your city, click here
In cases where the health unit does not have the necessary conditions or expertise for adequate treatment, the unit is responsible for referring the person to other health services, such as CAPS, specialized treatments, hospitals, among others.

The National Health Card is an instrument that makes it possible to link procedures performed within the scope of the Unified Health System (SUS) to the user, the professional who performed them and also the health unit where they were performed. For that, it is necessary to build registers of users, health professionals and health units. From these records, SUS users and health professionals receive a national identification number.

When necessary, continuity of access to health should be done through home care, mainly provided by health agents.

After consultation at the primary care units, if the use of any medication is prescribed, it is possible to obtain free of charge certain medications that make up the basic pharmacy or are part of the list of high-cost medications. In the latter case, it is necessary to fill out forms, in accordance with the protocols and rules of the Ministry of Health.

Interesting: On the website, find free medicines and health resources in Brazil

What about emergencies?

In emergency situations (imminent risk to life), if possible, go to the nearest emergency room. But it is important to know that any health service should receive and care for the person and, if necessary, refer them to another service. Therefore, other health services must also receive and refer the person.

It is part of SUS

– Ministry of Health (MS): Brasília-DF and 26 state centers

– Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz): RJ (11), PE, BA, AM and MG

– National Health Foundation (FUNASA): Brasília-DF

– National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa): Brasília-DF, 26 coordinators

– National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS)

– Brazilian Company of Blood Products and Biotechnology (Hemobras)

– National Cancer Institute

– Grupo Hospitalar Conceição 4 units in Rio Grande do Sul

– Sarah Network of Rehabilitation Hospitals 9 units

– State Health Secretariats: 26 states and DF

– Municipal Health Secretariats: 5,563 municipalities

– Health Councils: 5,563 municipal, 26 state and DF, 1 national council

– Family Health Support Center (CASF): 762

– General Hospitals: 5,226 units

– Specialized Hospitals: 1,091 units

– Day Hospital: 321 units

– Psychosomal Care Center (CAPS): 2,421 units

– Health Center / Basic Health Unit: 34,549 units

– Normal Delivery Center – Isolated 13 units

– Specialized Clinic / Specialized Outpatient Clinic 35,988 units

– Health Center: 10,667 units

– Public Health Central Laboratory (Lacen): 65 units

– Mobile Emergency Care Service (SAMU)

(source:, accessed in June 2014)

Written by: Adriana Sumi (Pharmaceuticals, USP, São Paulo)

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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