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Epidemiologia e Serviços de Saúde

versión impresa ISSN 1679-4974versión On-line ISSN 2237-9622

Epidemiol. Serv. Saúde vol.28 no.3 Brasília set. 2019  Epub 06-Feb-2020 


16th National Health Conference: Democracy and Health

Leila Posenato Garcia (orcid: 0000-0003-1146-2641)1 

2¹Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada, Diretoria de Estudos e Políticas Sociais, Brasília, DF, Brazil

T he 16th National Health Conference was the largest social participation event held so far in Brazil. Over 5 thousand people attended the Conference, including health council members, social movement representatives, National Health System (SUS) users, workers and managers, gathered in Brasília, DF, between August 4th and 7th 2019. This impressive event was organized by the National Health Council and sponsored by the Ministry of Health.

Its theme, “Democracy and Health,” and the reference to “8th+8” recall the historic 8th National Health Conference, held in 1986. The 8th Conference was the first national event with social participation in the field of health. Its final report1 recommended the creation of a national health system, separate from the retirement system. It also resulted in the setting up of the National Health Reform Commission (CNRS),2 which played a determining role in the preparation of the proposal that culminated in the inclusion of the right to health and the establishment of the SUS in the 1988 Federal Constitution.3

Over 4,600 conferences, totaling approximately 1 million participants, held in all the Brazilian states and the Federal District, preceded the 16th National Health Conference. Contributions to the debate were also provided by 63 free conferences, organized independently by health worker institutions, service users, higher education institutions, forums and by municipal and state-level health service managers.

The 16th Conference Consolidated National Report4 synthesized the best positions and guidance for defending and strengthening SUS, improving the population’s health conditions and building healthier and more democratic relations in the health sector and in society as a whole. The proposals were organized into three tracks: I - Health as a right; II - Consolidation of SUS principles; and III - Adequate and sufficient funding for the SUS.

The debates that took place during the 16th National Health Conference (NHC) culminated in the approval of 31 guidelines and 329 proposals originating from all the country’s states and its Federal District, as well as 56 motions which were included in the Final Report.5

The 16th NHC was a paramount moment for Brazilian democracy and for the SUS. The event recalled and reechoed the speech of Sergio Arouca, Chairman of the 8th NHC and protagonist of the creation of the SUS:

that [people] have the right to housing, to work, to a decent wage, to water, to clothing, to education, to information on how to rule the world over the world and transform it. (...) to an environment that is not aggressive towards them and which, on the contrary, enables a dignified and decent life. (...) to a political system that respects a people’s freedom of opinion and freedom of organization and self-determination, rather than being continually submitted to fear of violence, the type of violence that results from poverty, that results in robbery, in attacks. Nor should it be submitted to fear of violence of a government against its own people, in order to maintain interests that are not the interests of the people.6

The magnitude of the 16th National Health Conference reflects the greatness and the power of the SUS which, although it still faces challenges to fully achieving its principles, is unquestionably a heritage of the Brazilian population and, therefore, must be preserved and strengthened.


1. Ministério da Saúde (BR). Ministério da Previdência Social (BR). 8ª Conferência Nacional de Saúde: relatório final [Internet]. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde; 1986 [citado 2020 fev 3]. 21 p. Disponível em: Disponível em: ]

2. Ministério da Saúde (BR). Ministério da Previdência e Assistência Social (BR). Ministério da Educação (BR). Comissão nacional da reforma sanitária: documentos III [Internet]. Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Saúde; 1987 [citado 2020 fev 3]. 163 p. Disponível em: Disponível em: ]

3. Brasil. Presidência da República. Casa Civil. Constituição da República Federativa do Brasil de 1988 [Internet]. Brasília: Senado Federal; 1988 [citado 2020 fev 3]. Arts. 196 - 200. Disponível em: Disponível em: Links ]

4. Conselho Nacional de Saúde (BR). 16ª Conferência Nacional de Saúde: democracia e saúde [Internet]. Brasília: Conselho Nacional de Saúde; 2019 [citado 2020 fev 3]. 87 p. Disponível em: Disponível em: ]

5. Conselho Nacional de Saúde (BR). Relatório da 16ª Conferência Nacional de Saúde: versão preliminar [Internet]. Brasília: Conselho Nacional de Saúde ; 2019 [citado 2020 fev 3]. 255 p. Disponível em: Disponível em: Links ]

6. Arouca S. Democracia é saúde. In: CONFERÊNCIA NACIONAL EM SAÚDE, 8, março de 1986, Brasília [Internet]. Realização: Comissão Organizadora da 8ª Conferência Nacional de Saúde/Núcleo de Video/Fiocruz. Rio de Janeiro: Fiocruz; 1986 [citado 2020 fev 3]. (Video restaurado em 2013, publicado no canal VideoSaúde Distribuidora da Fiocruz - 1 vídeo, 42min33seg). Disponível em:Disponível em: Links ]

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