Equity and women's health services for contraception, abortion and childbirth in Brazil

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This paper addresses equity in health and health care in Brazil, examining unjust disparities between women and men, and between women from different social strata, with a focus on services for contraception, abortion and pregnancy. In 2010 women's life expectancy was 77.6 years, men's was 69.7 years. Women are two-thirds of public hospital services users and assess their health status less positively than men. The total fertility rate was 1.8 in 2011, and contraceptive prevalence has been high among women at all income levels. The proportion of sterilizations has decreased; lower-income women are more frequently sterilized. Abortions are mostly illegal; women with more money have better access to safe abortions in private clinics. Poorer women generally self-induce abortion with misoprostol, seeking treatment of complications from public clinics. Institutional violence on the part of health professionals is reported by half of women receiving abortion care and a quarter of women during childbirth. Maternity care is virtually universal. The public sector has fewer caesarean sections, fewer low birthweight babies, and more rooming-in, but excessive episiotomies and inductions. Privacy, continuity of care and companionship during birth are more common in the private sector. To achieve equity, the health system must go beyond universal, unregulated access to technology, and move towards safe, effective and transparent care. © 2012 Reproductive Health Matters.




Diniz, S. G., d’Oliveira, A. F. P. L., & Lansky, S. (2012). Equity and women’s health services for contraception, abortion and childbirth in Brazil. Reproductive Health Matters, 20(40), 94–101. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(12)40657-7

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