Public Policy Dynamics Spain #4
Health and Politics in Spain
|Total COVID-19 cases:||3,180,212|
|14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:||169|
|Total COVID-19 deaths:||68,813|
- The last few days have seen agreement in principle between the major conservative and socialist parties on important issues such as appointments to the board of directors of public television and negotiations on the leadership of the General Council of the Judiciary. Congress has ratified the extension of the temporary suspension of employment mechanism, which will allow companies to decide on temporary suspensions while the state finances salaries. In addition, an additional €11 billion is to be granted to small- and medium-sized enterprises to deal with the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis.
- Carolina Darias, the minister of health, has highlighted the ministry's intention to strengthen primary care and digitalisation, indicating that she will explain the main action lines during a Parliamentary Hearing on 11 March.
- COVID-19 infections are on the decline as the vaccination plan progresses. The government has extended restrictive measures on airport screening, while curfews and partial lockdowns continue to be applied in most regions.
- The two major parties, the Socialist and People's parties, have reached negotiating positions in recent weeks on some general parliamentary matters after the impasse over the Catalan elections of 14 February. The parties have reached a joint decision on appointments to the Board of Directors of Spanish Public Television, setting the scene for negotiations on other major issues such as the renewal of the members of the General Council of the Judiciary (the highest governing body of the judiciary).
- Congress has also adopted important decisions such as extending the application of the mechanism of special suspension of employment (ERTEs) until 31 May. The increase in the number of temporarily unemployed (900,000 in February) could pose a risk of permanent unemployment. Consequently, the Government has also announced the activation of other support measures such as a package of €11 billion for "companies, SMEs and self-employed workers.”
- European recovery funds are expected to ease the burden on the government – state debt has soared in recent months. To this end, the Technical Committee for the management of the Recovery and Resilience Plan, which will guide the allocation of the funds in Spain, was set up this week.
- On 11 March, Carolina Darias, the new health minister, will report on the general action lines of her Ministry during a Parliamentary Hearing. The Minister has already stated the aim to strengthen and expand the capacities of the National Health System, focusing on the reinforcement of primary care, the digitisation and innovation of health, and the improvement of care for chronicity and the ageing population.
- A group of experts led by IMAS foundation have defined 10 urgent objectives for the correct digitisation of the Spanish National Health System, including the need to redesign the system under the direction of patients, citizens and professionals; promote the involvement of professionals in clinical management; and incorporate the concept of "governance" of the WHO.
- Darias has also announced other important health policy decisions such as the update of the strategy against cancer based on five strategic lines, namely promotion and prevention; health care; attention to childhood and adolescence; cancer data and information; and research. The strategy includes 40 objectives with its corresponding indicators, including the investment in technology to improve treatments and enhance multidisciplinary care for patients, the need to have the necessary technology to optimally define cancer treatments, and the recognition of targeted treatments as new therapeutic strategies.
- Spain registered 235 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, a rate that below 250 for the first time since 28 December. From this rate, experts consider the epidemiological situation to be of extreme risk. This indicator remains in continuous decline since the peak of 28 January. By regions, those that have reported the most cases lately are Catalonia, Madrid and the Valencian Community.
- More than three million doses of vaccines have already been administered in Spain and 1.2 million people have received both doses. Up to now, the Government has purchased 136 million doses from five pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Janssen and Curevac). As reported by the Ministry, at least 9 million will arrive between February and March.
- The Government has reinforced restriction measures against the Brazilian and South African variants of Covid-19. All travellers from Brazilian and South African airports will be mandated to quarantine for ten days upon arrival in the country. This period can be reduced to 7 days, in the event that, once the initial one-week quarantine has ended, a negative Covid-19 test is provided.