Brazil bishops back drive for more health funds
Pope Francis arrives in Rio de Janeiro for a mass with bishops, priests and seminarians on July 27, 2013. Brazil's Catholic bishops on Monday backed a public campaign urging the state to earmark 10 percent of its gross revenues for health.
The move followed an appeal Pope Francis made during his visit to Brazil late last month that the Catholic church hierarchy get involved in the country's social problems.
"Our effort seeks to show that health is a right for all of God's sons and daughters, especially in the most underprivileged areas," said Leonardo Steiner, secretary general of National Confederation of Brazilian Bishops.
The Confederation is contributing 865,000 of the 1.4 million signatures needed for the citizen initiative to be considered by the National Congress.
About 100 organizations have joined together to collect the total number of signatures in support of the "Health+10" initiative.
Ronald Ferreira, president of the National Pharmaceuticals Federation that is coordinating the campaign, said he hopes to collect more than 1.9 million signatures.
"This proposal does not belong to one organization, neither to the government nor to the opposition. It expresses the will of the entire population," he said.
Increased funding for health, as well as for education and transport, was a key demand made by the hundreds of thousands of Brazilians who took to the streets in scores of cities in June.