After public hospitals began limiting services due to funding shortfalls, the governor of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro has declared a health sector emergency. The crisis comes as the metropolis of Rio readies to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in August, raising concerns about the availability of proper care amid an influx of athletes and tourists.
Globo television showed images of the Getulio Vargas Hospital with locks on its doors and a sign indicating that only people at risk of death would be seen.
‘Due to funding shortfalls, Rio de Janeiro has declared a health sector emergency. The crisis comes as Rio readies to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in August, raising concerns about the availability of proper care amid an influx of athletes and tourists.’
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Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao's move seeks to speed up funding to cash-strapped hospitals with the help of the central government in order to pay doctors and other staff and cover costs of key medical supplies.
Pezao said, "We hope to normalize payments next week. It's not ideal but the minimum required so the network can function."
The dire situation engulfing the state's health sector worsened Monday, December 21, 2015, with the closure of some 15 outpatient clinics (UPA) and certain hospital services.
In letters sent to the Rio Regional Council of Medicine (Cremerj), hospital directors complained of a lack of essential equipment and drugs, causing them to suspend surgeries.
In some hospitals employees have not been paid for four months.
30-year-old surgical resident Barbara Bastos said, "Rio's hospitals are in a catastrophic situation, we don't have anything to work with. We've already had to cancel operations, some pharmacies and emergency rooms have closed, and all that when we have patients in serious condition."
Cremerj president Pablo Vazquez has raised concern about the prospect of problems during the Olympics, which take place August 5 to 21, 2016.
Vazquez said, "We the doctors are worried - we don't know if we'll be in a position to care for our population, let alone for the tourists."
Health Minister Marcelo Castro said, "Six federal hospitals without financial problems will be at the disposition of the state of Rio" and that doctors and supplies will be transferred to hospitals in need."
The state of Rio, which relies heavily on oil revenue, has been experiencing a budget crisis linked to the fall in crude prices.