7 days in healthcare (February 26th-Mars 3rd, 2024)



From the point of view of Biomedicine, certain advances stand out in the search for a treatment for multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects 1.8 million globally and for which at this time there is no effective therapy. As announced by the president of the Spanish Society of Nephrology, the new drugs will allow many cases of dialysis and transplant to be avoided.

As far as Global Health is concerned, the most worrying thing is the poor perspectives observed regarding the pandemic treaty, the objective that the WHO had proposed for 2024. The obstacles are the accumulation of vaccines and the sharing of knowledge about them, problems of rich countries and companies, respectively. The Lancet warns about the need to strengthen cervical cancer screening, which continues to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths a year, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Warning about ultra-processed foods (cereals, protein bars, soft drinks, and fast food) linked to 32 harmful health effects, including increased risk of vascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, mental illness and premature death.

In terms of International Health Policy, a very serious problem with fentanyl in the United States, which in the last twelve months until September 23 had caused 105,000 deaths in that country. Until now, the policy was aimed primarily at preventing the entry of drugs; some extremist politicians had even proposed invading Mexico to put an end to the gangs. With the current Administration, efforts are directed more towards discouraging its use and treating addicts. Big problem for Republicans in the USA with the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court to declare frozen embryos as “extra-uterine children”, with all the obstacle that this has for the popular procedure of in vitro fertilization, so widespread in the United States as in other developed countries. This Alabama decision seems like a gift to Democrats: “First it was abortion, now it is in vitro fertilization and then it will be birth control,” warned Hillary Clinton. Even Trump was forced to distance himself from this decision. In France, the National Assembly is putting pressure on the pharmaceutical industry regarding the shortage of medicines, forcing laboratories to have a four-month reserve of “medicines of high therapeutic interest.” In order to strengthen drug R&D, the European Union is considering “giving away” a year’s patent to those drugs whose research has been carried out in Europe.

If we talk about National Health Policy (Spain), the current Ministry of Health, unlike previous Ministries, wants to get involved in the problems of the SNS, while the previous ones wanted to get involved as little as possible, with the argument that “everything was transferred” . This attitude seems, in principle, positive for the SNS. Another thing is priorities. It seems that among these are the suppression of 24-hour medical guards; addressing waiting lists; and, the State Public Health Agency. Regarding the first issue, the challenge is formidable, since medical guards, regardless of whether they are necessary or not, have become an important salary supplement. It is impossible to address this issue without considering the complements of medical personnel, which is no small issue. Regarding waiting lists, aware that their management corresponds to the communities, it seems that they want to establish a kind of “best practices”, with economic incentives for the communities that apply them. Not an easy matter either. And as for the State Public Health Agency, the ministry seems to have reached an agreement with the PNV and Junts, for the withdrawal of their amendments to the law. Let us hope that this agreement does not go against the strength and operation of the new Agency. For its part, SESPAS, the Spanish Society of Public Health, has published an interesting document on the characteristics that this body should have, with 11 very interesting recommendations. The Economic and Social Council of Spain (CES) publishes a report on the health system. Although the report is well prepared, it is difficult to find anything new in it that has not already been said or any innovative proposal. Taking advantage of the day of rare diseases (although it is now preferred to call them minority) the Spanish Association of Orphan and Ultra-orphan Drug Laboratories releases a report on the situation of these drugs in Spain. Much has been improved, although there is still room to advance. Both the La Paz hospital in Madrid and the Sant Joan de Deu in Barcelona launch special units to treat this type of illness.

As for Companies, on an international level, the Danish Zealand Pharma, a new relevant player in the field of obesity. On the national level, Viamed will launch a comprehensive unit for women in its hospital in Tarragona. New punishment in the Grifols Stock Market.


Global Health

International health policy

National health policy

  • 24 hour guards
    • The Ministry of Health wants to end 24-hour medical guards this term. The Ministry will study the legislative framework that the autonomous communities can apply. The aim is to organize it by hospitals and without losing salary, since the guards can represent up to a quarter of the professionals’ salary. The challenge is formidable, since it must be implemented by the autonomous communities, it involves a reorganization of hundreds of services, an increase in staff and addressing the complements of medical personnel (
  • Economic and Social Council (CES) report on the health system
    • Report from the CES on the health system. Among the recommendations it supports public health and prevention; specify and update the SNS service portfolio; make Primary Care the true axis of the system; confront waiting lists; strengthen the comprehensive mental health model; enhance the quality of pharmaceutical provision; promote the planning and reinforcement of human resources of the SNS; reinforce patient participation; contribution of the private for-profit and non-profit sector; improvement of system management and evaluation (