Salvador Illa announces in the Congress plans to reduce smoking, against obesity and the preparation of a White Paper on Digital Transformation of the National Health System

The minister has begun his presentation of the lines that he will develop during his tenure, emphasizing that the National system of health (SNS) is "one of the great successes of democracy and the Social State."

He has also highlighted his commitment to act with institutional loyalty, in collaboration with the autonomous communities and with the groups and agents of the sector. To strengthen this cooperation and coordination, it has announced its intention to reinforce the role of the SNS Interterritorial Council as a Sector Conference.

Salvador Illa has put as an example of collaborative work the response that is being given to the situation caused by the coronavirus. As he recalled, he is acting on four principles: daily monitoring, decisions based on scientific evidence, full transparency and maximum coordination with international, European and Autonomous Community health authorities.

"We are prepared to face the threat of the coronavirus, which is not an obstacle for us to be constantly alert to any change in the situation," he insisted, while reiterating the message of confidence in the public health system and its professionals.

Regarding its lines of work, the minister has explained that he will maintain a line of continuity with the policies developed by the former executive and has broken down his forecasts to face five major challenges for the SNS: the commitment to maintain people as the center of the system; the demographic challenge; maintenance of the excellence of professionals and the improvement of their conditions; digitalization and innovation and the improvement of financing and sustainability.

The people in the SNS Center

Illa is committed to promoting the updating of primary care "so that it assumes the leadership role that corresponds to it as the axis of the system." As he has detailed, he plans to promote, with the Autonomous Communities, measures such as the reinforcement of nursing or the integration of the domicile within the care network.

He has also announced the update of the National Strategy for Health Equity, "to ensure that all people, regardless of their resources, have access to the same health opportunities" through the SNS.

Within this line of work, Illa has also referred to the need to promote the inclusion of a gender perspective in a transversal way in health policies and actions. Thus, he explained that the Women's Health Observatory.

He has also announced that the order to return to women without partners and lesbian women access to assisted human reproduction techniques will be approved "in a very short time".

Regarding the development of Operational Plan of the National Sexual Health Strategy, Illa has announced that among other measures the National Survey of Sexual Health will be carried out again, which has not been carried out for more than 10 years, and coordination with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training will be reinforced.

Fight against smoking

Smoking campaign posterThe minister has identified the fight against smoking as "an absolute priority." He recalled that it is the first avoidable cause of illness, disability and premature death in the world. "In Spain alone, it is estimated that more than 50,000 people die each year from tobacco-derived diseases."

To combat this reality, it has announced a Comprehensive Smoking Reduction Plan, which will include compliance with the current law so that spaces without smoke are respected. It will also work in a new legislative framework that matches the new ways of smoking to current tobacco regulation. Illa recalled that the World Health Organization (WHO) warns of the risks of the chemicals that use these products. Illa explained that the introduction of neutral packaging will be analyzed and the Ministry of Finance will be requested to extend the taxation on tobacco and related products.

Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is another priority line highlighted by Illa. One in three minors in Spain is above a healthy weight. The minister has announced a comprehensive, intersectoral Plan against Childhood Obesity with an equity approach.

To do this, Illa proposes the creation of an interministerial group against childhood obesity that will work to limit the advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages aimed at children and adolescents; The nutritional quality requirements of catering services contracts in educational and health centers will be reviewed and a healthy taxation policy that discourages food consumption with a negative impact on health will be analyzed. Likewise, physical activity and healthy lifestyles will be promoted.

Alcohol consumption

Campaign against alcohol consumptionThe prevention of alcohol consumption in young people is another of the lines in which Health intends to "influence clearly." In this regard, Minister Illa has announced a law to protect children and adolescents from the harmful effects of alcohol. It will include measures such as influencing the limitation of minors' access to alcoholic beverages; set higher limits on advertising, including points of sale, and favor a cultural change that allows to perceive more clearly the risks of alcohol consumption.

Enviromental health

Environmental protection is one of the priorities of the Ministry of Health and the entire Government, explained Illa, "to avoid the impact that climate change is causing on the health of citizens." As he has advanced, the National Health and Environment Plan is going to be completed, "which should be the tool that allows to combat the health emergency that climate change already entails," he insisted.

Demographic challenge

From the point of view of health, the demographic challenge includes aspects such as aging, depopulation, chronicity, that people live with several diseases, the greater incidence of Alzheimer's dependence and loneliness, explained the minister.

The Ministry will analyze the needs of the demographic challenge for health, with the aim of adapting the SNS to the new population profile. In addition, work will be carried out on the development of a rural health care model.

It will also deepen scientific knowledge about the impact of unwanted loneliness as a social determinant of health. This line of work will be promoted with the Carlos III Health Institute, has explained.

Bet on the professionals

Health professionalsThe minister stressed that training, developing and retaining health professionals is one of the main challenges of the SNS. "They deserve all our recognition, but they also require that we pay maximum attention to their career and professional development," he said.

As he explained, he will work to maintain the prestige and recognition of health professions, retain and enhance talent in the public health system and to maintain the quality of care.

"We are going to focus our efforts on supporting all professionals and contributing to improve their working conditions in coordination with the autonomous communities," said the minister.

Illa has pledged to continue working with the autonomies to continue expanding the training capacity and, at the same time, to advance in the update of the official training programs. He has also ensured that he will promote better staff planning in the entire SNS.

Finally, it has announced the creation of a stable Forum of work and communication with the autonomous communities, which will allow progress in the recognition of the research career in Health Sciences.

Digitization and innovation

Digital transformation, precision medicine and therapeutic innovation are other major challenges for the future of the SNS. Illa has announced that the Ministry of Health will prepare a white paper of digital transformation of the National Health System. This document, he has detailed, "will be a strategic roadmap absolutely necessary for the future of public health in our country."

The minister has explained that digital transformation will drive precision medicine. "It will be a transformation when making decisions on prevention and treatments because we will have a large volume of information that will have positive effects on individual patient care and public health measures." The Ministry of Health will develop a Precision Medicine strategy with Science and Innovation.

Illa has also announced that a new pharmaceutical policy strategy of the SNS will be designed, which will include, among other measures, the implementation of a National Center for Advanced Therapies, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Financing and sustainability

Financing and sustainability is the fifth challenge of the SNS, according to Minister Illa, who has defended public spending on health "as an investment for the future" and has moved his commitment and from the Government as a whole to recover the level of investment in Health prior to the crisis. "We will progressively increase public resources dedicated to health in the coming years to reach 7% of GDP."

In parallel, he has argued that it is necessary to implement other measures of efficiency and savings. The minister has proposed measures such as strengthening the evaluation of the available evidence and scientific knowledge of the technologies and benefits before they are included in the SNS portfolio and balancing innovation with sustainability, with tools such as centralized purchasing or price revision .

Government Commitments

Rare diseasesSalvador Illa has finally referred to those measures already undertaken and government commitments in which the Ministry of Health has been working. In the first place, he has defended that he will continue working for the universality of health care, in order to have a law "that guarantees that all people are guaranteed their right to health protection". With the dissolution of the Cortes some concrete situations remained to be addressed.

He has also pledged to continue advancing in the elimination of the pharmaceutical co-payment, which "harms many patients in vulnerable situations".

Illa explained that he is already working on the progressive expansion of Oral Health Care in the SNS. He will also continue in the fight against antibiotic resistance and has announced that he will go one step further: a Law on Antibiotic Resistance will be developed.

Another of the lines in which it is going to continue advancing is the update of the Mental Health Strategy. Illa has announced a specific Plan to address suicidal behavior, which will include for the first time an institutional communication campaign of the Ministry on suicide.

The integration of rare diseases into the global planning of universal coverage will also continue. To do this, the Ministry of Health will finish developing the State Registry of Rare Diseases.

Illustrative image of euthanasiaSimilarly, the minister explained that the actions included in the Plan against Pseudotherapies.

Finally, it has been made available to the Chamber "to try to reach the maximum possible consensus" to approve the Euthanasia Law, which was admitted for processing a few days ago. "Death is part of life and in the same way that we have laws that protect living in a dignified way, we must also have laws that protect us in order to die in a more human, more dignified and also freer way," he concluded .

The minister has finished his intervention with a call to action "to achieve an effective system that goes through producing health instead of health, innovating to transform and, ultimately, to prevent and not just cure.

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