Learning from emerging economies : the case of Brazil
The idea for this dossier on health innovations in Brazil stems from a desire to transform vague impressions into tangible knowledge. Pascale – the founder of Hinnovic – came back enthusiastic from a workshop hosted in Fortaleza, Brazil. Through the various conversations she had with Brazilian researchers, industry and government representatives, she discovered an emerging economy where the will to build domestic capacity in health technology development seemed high and where the idea of creating products to address population needs and health inequalities was very strong. She was impressed by the policy initiatives to build human resource capacity in technical domains and was curious about Brazil’s commercial agreements with other low- and middle-income countries such as China, African Portuguese-speaking countries and India.
These impressions were the impetus to explore the lessons higher-income countries could learn. And we were not disappointed. The many collaborators who kindly accepted to contribute to this dossier provided a variety of gripping examples.
While in developed countries health policy and innovation policy agendas often evolve separately, sometimes resulting in new technologies struggling to find their ways into healthcare systems, Brazil was successful in articulating scientific and business development with its health policy agenda. Hudson Pacifico da Silva from the University of Campinas explains how Brazil “got so far.”
We also learned that contrary to other developing countries, Brazil has chosen to encourage and develop local production of drugs, vaccines and medical devices. Elize Massard da Fonseca from the Center for Metropolitan Studies in Brazil and Kenneth Shalden from the London School of Economics explain why this is so.
Also inspiring is the text by social scientist Vera Schattan Coelho, from the Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning. She explains how, since the 1980s, the Brazilian government has put in place various mechanisms involving civil society to reduce health inequalities. As a result, the country saw “an impressive decline in its infant mortality rate as well as important gains in life expectancy.”
South-South cooperation in health biotechnology development is another pillar of Brazil’s health policy. Halla Thorsteinsdottir, from the University of Toronto, examines the lessons that can be learned from the Brazil-Cuba cooperation in producing a vaccine against meningitis A infection.
Finally, we summarize a very thought-provoking paper by Johnson et al. (2013) that reveals how researchers from the UK put lessons into practice as they attempt to implement the Brazilian Community Health Worker Model in North Wales communities.
And for those who might not be familiar with the healthcare system in Brazil, as we were before we worked on this dossier, we present an overview of this country’s Unified Health System, based on an excellent paper by Paim et al. (2011) published in the Lancet.
Hope you will enjoy this dossier as much as we do!
|Author :||Myriam Hivon, Ph.D.