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The list of drugs provided free by the Single Health System for Brazilians who cannot afford treatment increases every two years, when the Ministry of Health updates the list. In one decade, the number of medications increased 140%. In 2002, 352 drugs were available to the population; now there are 844, all proven to be effective.

With most medications, there are more alternatives available for patients who no longer respond to treatments that had been used before, as well as demonstrate the possibility of cure for rare diseases.

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The Popular Pharmacy network exists in 4,119 municipalities, but that number continues to grow because, as a result of the Brazil Without Poverty program, pharmacies and drugstores in Brazilian municipalities in extreme poverty have been given priority in the registration process.

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• To learn more about the program click here

• Popular Pharmacy began in June 2004:

• Today the program is part of Brazilian life:

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It seemed natural and inevitable: Brazilians who could not afford the price of drugs stood in long lines for hours or even days to obtain the medications to which they were entitled. The Popular Pharmacy established in 2003 by the Ministry of Health has changed this picture.

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Before distributing medicines for diabetes, hypertension and asthma, Brazil already did the same for HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. The results transformed the country into a global point of reference: between 2000 and 2011, AIDS mortality rates fell 12%.

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• Learn more about the distribution of medicines

• SUS begins to offer vaccine against hepatitis A to children

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Diabetes and hypertension are chronic diseases, manageable and well known both to lay people and experts. Even so, they are the main causes of death in Brazil and worldwide. In 2008, they were related to at least 62% of deaths with known causes in the country. It was necessary to prevent the deaths of more Brazilians.

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Eating more than five grams of salt per day can cause hypertension, heart disease, kidney problems and some types of cancer. And Brazilians consume a lot of salt. Worse, they eat it without knowing because salt is present in the composition of most manufactured foods. In 2011, the government took the first step to make life healthier in Brazil by signing an agreement with the industries that produce instant noodles, bread, biscuits, cake mix and mayonnaise, to remove up to 30% of the sodium in their products.

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