Comprehensive medical and travel insurance is strongly recommended before travelling to Brazil. Many Brazilians prefer to take out a private health insurance plan and there are plenty available, including BUPA.
You should contact your GP for advice on recommended vaccinations which depend upon which areas of Brazil you intend to visit. Malaria is a risk in some northern parts of Brazil and you are advised to minimise exposure to mosquito bites by covering up and using repellents. Commonly recommended vaccinations for Brazil:
Recommended for everyone
Recommended for all areas in the states of Acre, Amapa, Amazones, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sol, Minas Gerais, Para, Rondonia, Roraima, and Tocantins, and parts of the states of Bahia, Parana, Piaui, Rio Grande do Sul, and Sao Paulo.
Required if you are arriving from a yellow-fever infected area of Africa or the Americas.
For those who may have intimate contact with local residents, especially when visiting for more than 6 months
For those who may have direct contact with animals and may not have access to medical care
All travellers should be up-to-date on tetanus-diphtheria, measles-mumps-rubella, polio, and chicken pox vaccinations
Tap water is heavily treated in most cities giving it a rather chemical taste but it is safe to drink, provided it has been passed through a charcoal filter system. It is best to check with the hotel or restaurant management before drinking tap water. Tap water in remote areas can be unsafe even if filtered so you are advised to stick to bottled mineral water, which is widely available.
Medical/dental care in Brazil is generally considered to be good, especially in capital cities. The INSS (National Institute for Social Security) is the national social security system and all workers and their employers make compulsory contributions to the system, giving them the right to medical services and eventually a pension.
The healthcare service varies in efficiency according to city and district and you will hear reports of long queues and other stories of prompt treatment. Municipal hospitals are widely available, which provide free treatment including emergency services to everyone.
With the more stable economy, medical plans have improved, and private pension plans are now available. One major difference when comparing to other healthcare systems is that you do not always have to go through your GP to receive a specialist consultation.