Municipality of Caxias do Sul v. Martha Rath Bohrer

Municipality of Caxias do Sul v. Martha Rath Bohrer, AI 559055/RS, Supremo Tribunal Federal [Federal Supreme Court] (2007).
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Country: Brazil
Region: Americas
Year: 2007
Court: Supremo Tribunal Federal [Federal Supreme Court]
Health Topics: Health care and health services, Medicines, Poverty
Human Rights: Right to health, Right to life
Tags: Access to drugs, Access to health care, Access to medicines, Access to treatment

The Municipality of Caxias do Sul brought an interlocutory appeal against the Court of Justice of Rio Grande do Sul’s decision, refusing to admit an extraordinary appeal. The Court of Justice found that the federal, state and municipal governments possessed joint liability, stemming from their duty to provide free pharmaceuticals for the treatment of serious diseases to needy people, in order to ensure constitutional rights to life and health.

The Municipality of Caxias do Sul argued that the judgment violated articles 196, 197, 198, 199, and 200 of the Constitution. It stated that the constitutional articles clearly divided the responsibility of providing public health services between the federal, state and municipal governments, and that the right to health is a programmatic norm, contingent upon the actual application of the law.

The Court affirmed the Court of Justice’s decision, finding that effectuating the constitutional right to health was the responsibility of the federal, state and municipal governments, and that the state was obligated to provide free health care and medicines to those in need. The Court further found that the State’s appeal constituted an act of malicious litigation, and ordered the Municipality of Caxias do Sul to pay a fine.

"O reconhecimento judicial da validade jurídica de programas de distribuição gratuita de medicamentos a pessoas carentes dá efetividade a preceitos fundamentais da Constituição da República (arts. 5º, "caput", e 196) e representa, na concreção do seu alcance, um gesto reverente e solidário de apreço à vida e à saúde das pessoas, especialmente daquelas que nada têm e nada possuem, a não ser a consciência de sua própria humanidade e de sua essencial dignidade."

"Judicially recognizing the legal validity of programs that distribute free medication to people in need validates the fundamental principles of the Constitution of the Republic (article 5, header, and 196). It also represents, to its maximum extent, an action taken in reverence and in solidarity with the peoples’ right to life and to health, especially of people that possess little more than a consciousness of their own humanity and of their essential dignity."

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