Risk Dialogue Series - Health Risk Factors in Brazil

03 Mar 2015

In many respects, Brazil exhibits the classic health transition of an emerging market. Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes have emerged as the major causes of mortality. This is a result of the rapid change in age structure and has been fuelled by physical inactivity and a significant shift in diet towards the consumption of processed foods, resulting in significant increases in the number of individuals who are overweight, obese and diabetic. Although the country is vast, it is significantly urbanised. That has brought with it high levels of air pollution to the mega cities, which is associated with an increase in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality. The health transition the country has gone through over the last decades is summarised in this publication, followed by specific articles addressing risk factors and conditions contributing to the country’s health shift.

Brazil is a vast country. Despite extensive public health campaigns, parts of Brazil still struggle with infectious diseases that are characteristic of developing countries. At the same time, it is beset by a rising rate of non-communicable chronic diseases NCDs, a situation compounded by the country’s ageing population. As with other emerging markets, Brazil has a rapidly growing middle class. This middle class has already expressed frustration at the insufficient public services, such as public transport. With increasing demands on the health system, access to adequate healthcare has the potential to become another divisive political issue.

These challenges are not insurmountable. The need for greater health coverage can be as much an opportunity as a threat. Insurance can play a valuable role in expanding access to healthcare in an affordable and reliable manner.

Key findings:

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes have emerged as the major causes of mortality in Brazil

  • Air pollution to the mega cities is associated with an increase in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality

  • Non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) are the largest health burden in Brazil enhanced by ageing population and obesity

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This publication is part of the joint research collaboration by Swiss Re and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It describes the research undertaken by 45 colleagues from both institutions. It is an important component of what we call the Systematic Explanatory Analyses of Risk factors affecting Cardiovascular Health (SEARCH) project. The aim of our collaboration is to clarify the relationship between risk factors and health outcomes in the rapidly evolving countries of Brazil, China, India and Mexico. Their health profile is changing swiftly and significantly with economic growth. NCDs are rising rapidly, creating a major challenge for public and private providers and funders of health care.

Andreas Obrist

Business Development Manager
Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue
Tel: +41 43 285 96 07

To order print copies of the publication please mail to publications@swissre.com. Order no: 1506000_14_EN

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