Spanish Flu | Opinion | Country

Seasonal respiratory virus epidemics in Spain, particularly influenza A, have caused the collapse of many health centers and put hospitals under pressure even before their peak. Data released last Thursday by the Carlos III Health Institute showed that the national respiratory infection rate was 952.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a 78% increase from a month ago. In the last week of the year, the incidence of influenza alone increased by 75%, reaching 438.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which is a historically high incidence rate.

The Spanish health system has successfully coped with the biggest crisis in its history during the pandemic, in large part due to the efforts of all professionals, but it also faces a series of structural shortcomings, especially in primary care, that are currently Although this epidemic reoccurs every year, the impact is also large and small. These structural reasons, which are the basis for the protests of thousands of professionals that have taken place in different autonomous regions over the past few months, are issues that must be addressed, especially the chronic shortage of professionals in a country that has lost five thousand families to doctors.

There is also a health education component related to citizens’ own behavior. Many cases do not require specialist attention, as evidenced by the fact that despite a surge in hospital emergency patient numbers (by 20% to 50%), the proportion of eventual admissions is low. Hospitalizations increased by 60% in seven days (9.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants). The decline in vaccination rates should also cause social reflection. On the part of public administrators, calls from primary medical associations for improved sick leave management should not go unnoticed. His recommendations were to reinstate the mandatory wearing of masks in health centers and other preventive measures. The health department will recommend to communities on Monday that face masks be once again universal across the country; some autonomous regions have already announced this measure on Friday.

This situation is even more relevant to some of the recommendations made by independent experts in their report assessing the performance of national health systems during the pandemic, including strengthening public health services with more professionals and better means, as well as repositioning and strengthening Primary health care services. care. Priority must be given to strengthening and supporting health workers to halt the decline of one of the pillars of the welfare state, as health workers in many cases suffer from worsening working conditions and are overworked.

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