International Access to Public Health Data: An Important Brazilian Legal Precedent

J Law Med. 2020 Aug;27(4):895-900.


Accurate, up-to-date data are the bedrock of effective public health responses, including in the context of the suffering caused by COVID-19. Any action to inhibit the compilation of such data has ramifications locally, nationally and internationally, and risks impairing the global capacity to respond to the virus. This article contextualises the decision of the government of President Bolsonaro of Brazil to reduce the accessibility of contemporary data about COVID-19 infections in Brazil within his views about, and responses to, the virus. It identifies the nature of actions taken to suppress such data by the Brazilian Ministry of Health and then scrutinises a decision by De Moraes J of Brazil’s High Court in Sustainability Network v The President of the Republic of Brazil (ADPF 690 MC/DF, 8 June 2020), which quashed the attempted suppression of public health data. The article hails the decision as an important public health law precedent.