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A painful lesson about Brazilian healthcare

The front of the emergency entrance of the University's Hospital of Maringá, a public health center. (Nicole Luna/YJI)

Maringá, BRAZIL – Today, my mom complained about having strong pain on the side of her body. She was suffering from renal colic. 

After a long time convincing her to go to the hospital, she accepted. She was crying from the pain. 

“I don’t want to go. We have to wait so long and in the end, they do nothing for us,” my mom said. 

I thought she was just exaggerating. In my mind, they would do something for her. She would have some exams that would show if she had something serious. 

But that didn’t happen. We waited around 40 minutes to finally see a doctor. But surprisingly, they didn’t perform any exams, like an x-ray or ultrasound, to determine exactly what she had. 

Instead, they just administered medication intravenously. 

She was crying from the strong pain, almost passing out and vomiting, and guess what? In the medical records, they didn’t even mention that. 

According to the doctor, there’s nothing they can do, since there are limited resources allocated to the Unified Healthcare System, which is a Brazilian program that provides free healthcare assistance for all Brazilians. 

After two hours, we went back home. I could understand more why my parents – and the rest of the people who cannot afford health insurance – often say, “You die waiting for public support.”

Nicole Luna is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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