Current and Projected Mortality and Hospitalization Rates Associated With Conditional Cash Transfer, Social Pension, and Primary Health Care Programs in Brazil, 2000-2030

The health outcomes of increased poverty and inequalities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been substantially amplified as a consequence of converging multiple crises. Brazil has some of the world's largest conditional cash transfer (Programa Bolsa Família [PBF]), social pension (Beneficio de Prestacão Continuada [BPC]), and primary health care (Estratégia de Saúde da Família [ESF]) programs that could act as mitigating interventions during the current polycrisis era of increasing poverty, slow or contracting economic growth, and conflicts.  Among the 2548 Brazilian municipalities studied from 2004 to 2019, the mean (SD) age-standardized mortality rate decreased by 16.64% (from 6.73 [1.14] to 5.61 [0.94] deaths per 1000 population). Consolidated coverages of social welfare programs studied were all associated with reductions in overall mortality rates. Considering a shorter scenario of economic crisis, a mitigation strategy that will increase the coverage of PBF, BPC, and ESF to proportionally cover the newly poor and at-risk individuals was projected to avert 1 305 359 (95% CI, 1 163 659-1 449 256) deaths and 6 593 224 (95% CI, 5 534 591-7 651 327) hospitalizations up to 2030, compared with fiscal austerity scenarios that would reduce the coverage of these interventions. This cohort study's results suggest that combined expansion of conditional cash transfers, social pensions, and primary health care should be considered a viable strategy to mitigate the adverse health outcomes of the current global polycrisis in LMICs, whereas the implementation of fiscal austerity measures could result in large numbers of preventable deaths.