Brazil’s Solicitor General backed military hospitals’ right to bar civilian patients

Military hospital in Brasília. Photo: Antonio Cruz/ABr
Military hospital in Brasília. Photo: Antonio Cruz/ABr

In a 12-page opinion dated March 22, the Brazilian Solicitor General’s Office supported military hospital’s rights to turn away civilian Covid-19 patients. The report was issued to the Federal Accounts Court and published by weekly magazine Veja.

Earlier this month, the accounts court requested daily updates from the Defense Ministry on how many beds were available in hospitals run by the Armed Forces. “Amid a generalized shortage of beds for Covid-19 patients, it is expected that all means available should be at the people’s disposal,” said court member Benjamin Zymler.

A week ago, three of Brazil’s 27 states had no available ICU beds — and occupation rates surpassed 90 percent in another 14 states.

According to the Solicitor General’s Office, military hospitals consist of a parallel health system, exclusively used by members of the Armed Forces and their families. Sharing that structure with civilians would “violate” military rules, read the opinion. “Far from being an outlandish privilege, this separate and special healthcare network is a right of the military based on the specificities of their activities.”