Madrid, Oct 17 (EFE) .- Spain, which was one of the countries most affected by the first wave of COVID-19, is being hit again by the pandemic and, although the reasons are still “not fully understood” , this virus has “magnified” the weaknesses of the health system and has revealed “the complexities of the policies that make up the country.”
These are the main opinions of the editorial “Covid-19 in Spain: A predictable storm?”, Published this Saturday in The Lancet Public Health magazine.
The article recalls that on October 12, Spain had 861,112 confirmed cases, 32,929 deaths and more than 63,000 infected health workers.
The first wave put the resistance of the health system to the test but, despite the creation in 2004 of a Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, the pandemic exposed problems such as a weak surveillance system throughout the country, low capacity to do PCR, and lack of equipment for health personnel and equipment in intensive care, as pointed out in a letter signed by 20 Spanish scientists and sent to the magazine in August.
The letter also mentioned the lack of coordination and slowness in decision-making by central and regional authorities, high levels of population mobility, scant scientific advice, an aging population, health and social inequalities. , and the lack of preparation in nursing homes, recalls today’s editorial.
And is that due to the cuts imposed after the financial crisis of 2008, the four pillars of the Spanish health system -governance, financing, service provision and workforce- were already “fragile” when they were overwhelmed by the pandemic in March , says the editorial of the scientific journal.
That decade of austerity “reduced the health personnel and the capacities of the public health and the health system, so that the health services do not have the necessary personnel or resources. With 5.9 nurses per 1000 inhabitants , Spain has one of the lowest proportions in the EU (the average is 9.3 per 1000), and all too often with temporary contracts that can last only a few days or weeks “, warns the magazine.
Along with all this, The Lancet points to the “political polarization and decentralized management of Spain” that also “could have hindered” a rapid and effective health response by public health.
However, the magazine concludes by saying that “there are reasons for hope” and recalls that according to the latest Lancet global health report – released this week – Spain is one of the countries with the highest healthy life expectancy in Spain. The West, so “if Spain’s political leaders can draw lessons from its suboptimal response to COVID, the country is very well placed to give its population a bright and healthy future.”
(c) EFE Agency