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“Saúde na Hora”: new Brazilian program has been implemented to improve patient access to primary health care.

Christine Aparecida Wegner

IFMSA Brazil

Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC)

A system made to answer the needs of 200 million people – this is SUS.

Primary health care is the first contact Brazilian population has with the public health system. Being fundamental to treat and to prevent diseases, a good health service is directly related to primary health care of good quality.(1) Furthermore, this kind of service represents the highest rates of resoluteness – it’s capable of resolving more than 80% of all the arriving cases.(2) Consequently, creating strategies to improve basic health services and ease access to them is a necessary action to improve health indicators.

In Brazil, the national health system (called Sistema Único de Saúde – SUS), is public and universal. Hence, the professionals responsible for it are working hard day by day to improve the system’s capability to attend to the population’s demand based on its principles – integrity, universalization and equity. The health units are the centers of primary care in the country and they are becoming indispensable to most of the patients.(1) However, besides the services’ diversification, its working is limited to 8 hours daily, totalizing only 40 hours weekly.(3) Because of that, its universalisation has become a problem. 

More time to help more.

The “Saúde na Hora” (Health at Anytime) governmental program’s objective is to enhance the family health strategy cover in the whole country and enlarge the number of people who have access to the health center. Moreover, this new project can raise the health units’ capability of attendance, reduce the searching for another service and improve attention to patients with chronic diseases. The chosen strategy to enhance people’s access to primary care was to extend the basic units’ attendance time from 8 hours to 12 hours daily – totalizing at least 60 hours weekly. By joining this national program, health centers are benefited with more financial investments to enhance the work team and improve the local infrastructure.(3)

Since the beginning, more than one thousand basic health units in 249 cities joined the program, and around 19 million people now have expanded access to health care. This is helping to diminish the disparity existing between the patients’ needs and the free services offered to them in the health centers. By extending the hours of service and the working days, an improvement happened in people’s participation in the activities offered in the health centers.(2) Thus, the patients who need to work or to study can now have access to all the available health services in the primary care without compromising their professional or academic activities. 

Most of all, primary health care’s main role is now being gradually extended to a larger number of cities. One of the problems in the Project expansion is that most of the cities don’t have enough infrastructure or professionals working daily to implement the changes that need to be made to really benefit the patients. Despite all of this, things are slowly becoming better. In the first month of the program, only 24 cities were engaged in it. By the end of 2019, almost 250 cities became a part of it.(4) Finally Brazil is heading more and more towards health system’s universal access based on it’s constitutional purpose: health as people’s right and as the State’s obligation.


  1. de Almeida PF, Fausto MCR, Giovanella L. Strengthening primary health care: a strategy to maximize coordination of care. Pan Amer J Public health. 2011:29(2): 84-95. Available from: 
  2. Rosa RB, Pelegrini AHW Lima MADS.Resolutiveness of care and satisfaction of users of the family health strategy. Rev gaúcha de enfermagem, Porto Alegre, v 32, n 2, p 345-351.
  3. Mandetta LH. Official diary of the UN. 2019 My 15 [cited 2020 Jan 28]. Available from: 
  4. Saúde na Hora: 19 million Brazilians with expanded service. 2019 [cited 2020 Jan 28]. Available from: 


The Medical Student International (MSI) is a biannual magazine that focuses on global health perspectives brought by medical students worldwide. It is published online in parallel to the General Assembly (March Meeting and August Meeting). The thematic section of each MSI aligns with the one of its respective meeting, as decided by the Federation. Additionally, the magazine features articles from medical students on their perspectives and activities related to our standing committees: public health, medical education, human rights, sexual and reproductive health, professional and research exchanges. It also includes a section on the best projects of IFMSA “the Rex Crossley Award Winners”.

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