Serviço Nacional de Saúde | 40 Anos | 1979-2019
Direção-Geral da Saúde

Historic notes

The Directorate-General of Health was founded by decree of October 4, 1899, following an outbreak of bubonic plague that had, in that year, affected the city of Oporto. Its main aim was to improve defense against future epidemics.

In 1911, the Directorate-General of Health was parted from a social justice view and was directed towards public health.

In the second half of the 20th century, the Directorate-General of Health became bigger and more important and its work was publically recognizes. It guided, monitored and ruled in matters of health and hygiene.

The Health Services Reform (Decree-Law 413/1971 of September 27) establishes a new chapter in the history of Health in Portugal. Priorities were set, such as health promotion and disease prevention. In this Reform, Francisco Gonçalves and Arnaldo Sampaio stand out.

With the new framework of the Portuguese Constitution, the National Health Service is born in 1976, as a free and universal health service. Antonio Arnault is the main thruster of the Law that creates the National Health Service.

João Ferraz de Macedo was the first Director-General of Health, appointed in 1901, followed by other distinguished Directors:

  • 1901-1911: João Ferraz de Macedo
  • 1911-1928: Ricardo Jorge
  • 1928-1946: José Alberto de Faria
  • 1946-1963: Augusto da Silva Travassos
  • 1963-1971: Maria Luísa de Saldanha da Gama Van Zeller
  • 1971-1974: Cristiano Rodrigues Nina
  • 1974-1978: António Arnaldo de Carvalho Sampaio
  • 1978-1981: José Pissara Xavier Lopes Dias
  • 1981-1984: Luís António Feyo do Prado Quintino
  • 1984-1985: António José Nazaré Vaz
  • 1985: José Florêncio Botelho Castel-Branco
  • 1986-1988: José Luís Chagas Henriques de Jesus
  • 1988-1993: José dos Santos Bandeira Costa
  • 1993-1994: Delfim Pereira Neto Rodrigues
  • 1994-1997: João Manuel Nunes de Abreu
  • 1997-1999: Constantino Theodor Sakellarides
  • 1999-2001: José Luís Castanheira dos Santos
  • 2001-2005: José Manuel Domingos Pereira Miguel
  • Since 2005: Francisco Henrique Moura George