Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
SCATENA, João Henrique G. and TANAKA, Oswaldo Yoshimi. Decentralization of the health care system in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil: financing and the model of care. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2000, vol.8, n.4, pp. 242-249. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892000000900003.
This piece analyzes the funding of the public Unified Health System (UHS) in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, in order to identify the model of care that has been taking shape there since 1994. We studied 16 municipalities, selected according to their size, degree of involvement with the UHS, and socioeconomic and health conditions. We found that between 1994 and 1998 there were large increases in health spending, due to higher municipal expenditures and to rising intergovernmental transfers for outpatient care. However, the health care system taking shape in a large number of Mato Grosso municipalities is increasingly focused on an individual, curative, specialized, and highly technological type of care. Indicative of this trend is the fact that the biggest increases in spending for outpatient care-up to 300% in some municipalities- have come from diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that are of medium or high complexity. Since the resources for health care are limited, and since the model of care adopted by many municipalities continues to shift resources from primary health care to more complex procedures, we believe that the financial viability of the Unified Health System is coming into question. Although this study was limited to the state of Mato Grosso, other Brazilian municipalities are no doubt facing similar situations. The same is probably true for municipalities in other South American countries that have adopted decentralization of the health care system as one of the strategies for State reform.