The Brazilian Congress has maintained the Presidential vetoes on a medical bill which would have affected the scope of practice of the country’s optometrists, and could have stopped them from practicing.
Medical Bill No 268/2002, which sought to regulate the medical profession in Brazil, has been under discussion for 11 years, and has been fiercely fought by medical practitioners in the country.
In July, Brazilian President, Dilma Vana Rousseff, vetoed various clauses and articles of the bill which affected the practice of various non-medical health professions including optometry. This veto was upheld by Congress this week.
WCO worked closely with the Brazilian Council of Optometry and Optics (CBOO) this year to persuade the Brazilian government that optometry is an autonomous healthcare profession that can make a significant contribution to providing comprehensive eye and vision care. Many WCO members supported the country’s optometrists, and were mobilised by WCO to petition the Brazilian government for recognition of the profession, and to call for the veto.
Following the vote, Dr Susan Cooper, President of WCO, said: “This is a very positive move for optometry in Brazil and around the world. Recognition of our profession will ensure more people can benefit from easier access to primary eye health and vision care.”
“We are pleased that the Brazilian government has recognised the important role that non-medical professions like optometry play in the provision of equitable health care.”
Ariel Scussel Malburg, vice-president of the Brazilian Council of Optometry and Optics, said: “It is crucial for the survival and development of optometry in Brazil that the Presidential vetoes are maintained: otherwise the profession will cease to exist in the country. If the vetoes are maintained we believe that in a short time we will have a profession which is regulated and whose autonomous practise is guaranteed; able in this manner to contribute to this large and needy country.”