Strong health systems fundamental to health of nations

There is no one-size-fits-all health system that will work for every country, according to Rifat Atun, professor of global health systems at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In an interview with BBC News Brasil published January 4, 2021, he said that both public and private models—or combinations of both—can be effective. What’s most important, he said, is that a system is “efficient, effective, equal, and responds to local needs.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities even in health systems that had been considered strong, such as those in Spain and Italy, Atun said. Around the world, the pandemic has also highlighted the indelible link between citizens’ health and the strength of economies. In Latin American and other countries, many people work in the informal labor market, and systems need to be structured to ensure that the health of this vulnerable population is protected, he said.

“I think it is very important that countries are able to provide universal health coverage to their citizens,” Atun said. “If a state fails to deliver this, it urgently needs to rethink its priorities.”

Read BBC News Brasil article (in Portuguese): ‘O SUS trouxe inúmeras conquistas ao Brasil, mas ele pode ser aprimorado para reduzir desigualdades’, diz professor de Harvard

Read English version via Google Translate: ‘SUS has brought countless achievements to Brazil, but it can be improved to reduce inequalities’, says Harvard professor