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Participants of the advocacy forum convened by the Brazilian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (SBOT).
Courtesy of SBOT

AAOS Now

Published 6/1/2016
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Amanda Decker

Building Bridges: AAOS Supports Advocacy in Brazil

Facing serious challenges, including the transfer of physician certification from medical societies to the Ministry of Health, the Brazilian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (Sociedade Brasileira de Ortopedia e Traumatologia, or SBOT) recently reorganized its Public Health Policy Commission. In addition, a rapidly aging population is creating shifting healthcare needs for the Brazilian community.

In light of these issues, SBOT held a unique advocacy forum this past April in Fortaleza, Brazil, which included representatives from medical specialty societies, the Federal Council of Medicine, and the Brazilian Medical Association, as well as a federal legislator. The goal of the forum was to gather input for building the Brazilian orthopaedic advocacy community.

Representatives from AAOS were also invited to the advocacy forum to share their expertise on the subject. Via webinar, Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, past president, past chairman, Orthopaedic Political Action Committee; William O. Shaffer, MD, BS, AAOS medical director; and Graham Newson, director, AAOS office of government relations, explained how AAOS uses its advocacy resources to affect outcomes related to physician practices and patient access to orthopaedic care.

"In the United States, AAOS protects the surgeon and proposes laws that benefit the patient," said SBOT President Luiz Antonio Munhoz da Cunha, MD, adding that Brazil should follow the U.S. example.

"After all, patients are our focus and the reason we work," he said.

With 39 physicians in Brazil's Congress, compared to two currently in the U.S. Congress, Dr. Munhoz da Cunha believes significant orthopaedic advocacy gains can be made in his country.

SBOT and AAOS agree on a major underlying premise of advocacy efforts—it is essential for the medical community to proactively represent its viewpoints to the government to ensure that policies that are in the best interests of patients are enacted.

Amanda Decker is manager, international programs at AAOS. She can be reached at decker@aaos.org