Dina Rosa Vieira v. Municipality of Porto Alegre

No. AGRG. 271.286-8 Rio Grande do Sul
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Dina Rosa Vieira brought the case against the municipality of Porto Alegre for failing to provide medication for the treatment of AIDS. Vieira was destitute and unable to afford the medication herself.

The first instance court ruled in favor of Vieira and ruled that in light of the constitutional principles protecting the right to health and life, the State of Rio Grande do Sul and the Municipality of Porto Alegre were under the joint duty to provide its citizens access to medication, including medicine for the treatment of AIDS. The Municipality of Porto Alegre appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, by way of an agravo regimental as part of an appeals process.

The Court rejected the request and upheld the first court’s decision.

The Court held that the constitutional principles safeguarding and consecrating the right to health and life required the provision of free HIV medicine to financially destitute people. The Court emphasized that the right must not become an unenforced promise. Further, the Court rejected the appellant’s argument that the non-existence of a budget for such extraordinary expenses in the approved annual budget conflicted with article 167, I of the Federal Constitution, which prohibits the inception of new programs not covered by the budget. Ultimately, the right to health is an unalienable consequence of the right to life, and the Public Authority must ensure that social and economic policies are implemented to guarantee universal and equal access to health acts and services to its citizens.

0 direito publico subjetivo a saude representa prerrogativa juridica indisponivel assegurada a generalidade das pessoas pela propria Constituicao da Republica (art. 196). Traduz bem juridico constitucionalmente tutelado, por cuja integridade deve velar, de maneira responsavel, o Poder Publico, a quem incumbe formular - e implementar - politicas socials e economicas idoneas que visem a garantir, aos cidaddos, inclusive aqueles portadores do virus HIV, o acesso universal e igualitario a assistencia farmaceutica e medico-hospitalar. (p. 1409)

0 direito a saude               alem de qualificar-se coma direito fundamental que assiste a todas as pessoas - representa conseqaencia constitutional indissociavel do direito a vida. 0 Poder Publico, gualguer que seja a esfera institucional de sua atuacdo no plano da organizacao federativa brasileira, nao pode mostrar-se indiferente aos problema da saude da populacaoo, sob pena de incidir, ainda que por censuravel omissao, em grave comportamento inconstitucional.”

“The subjective right to health represents the undeniable judicial prerogative guaranteed to the general public by the Constitution of the Republic (article 196). This translates as a constitutionally mandated right, and by such authority proscribes that, in a responsible manner, the Public Authority, whomever constitutes such position and has the power to implement appropriate social and economic policies must provide and guarantee its citizens, including those carrying the HIV virus, universal and equal access to pharmaceutical assistance and medical-hospital access.

In addition to qualifying as a fundamental right applicable to all people, the right to health represents an undeniable constitutional consequence of the right to life. The Public Authority, whichever institution is deemed responsible for such role in the Brazilian federal system, must not show itself indifferent to such public health problems, under risk of adopting, even if by censurable omission, unconstitutional behavior.” (p. 1409)

“Não basta, portanto, que o Estado meramente proclame o reconhecimento formal de um direito. Torna-se essencial que, para além da simples declaração constitucional desse direito, seja ele .integralmente respeitado e plenamente garantido, especialmente naqueles casos em que o direito como o direito à saúde se qualifica como prerrogativa jurídica de que decorre o poder do cidadão de exigir, do Estado, a implementação de prestações positivas impostas pelo próprio ordenamento constitucional.” (pp. 1421-1422)

“It is therefore insufficient for the State to merely proclaim formal recognition of such right. To reach beyond the scope of a simple constitutional declaration, it becomes essential that such right be integrally respected and fully guaranteed. This is especially true in the case in which a right, such as the right to health, qualifies as a judicial prerogative that involves a citizen’s power to demand that the State implement positive obligations imposed on it by the constitutional order.” (p. 1421)

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