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Healthcare and Social Policy

Sunday 31 December 2017


The Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality coordinates the National Health System and designs its global strategies - equality, quality and efficiency - acting as a basic instrument of regional integration. It also undertakes, as an exclusive State power, the general management and coordination of healthcare, approves legislation on pharmaceutical products, manages foreign healthcare, international healthcare relations and agreements, and obtains, issues and certifies professional post-graduate qualifications.

The Directorate-General for the Basic Portfolio of Services of the National Health and Pharmacy System, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, is tasked with deciding on the inclusion of pharmaceutical products provided by the National Health System, as well as the prices to be applied to such pharmaceutical products

The Spanish Agency for Medication and Healthcare Products is the agency tasked with assessing medication for the purposes of registration and authorisation.

The National Transplant Organisation (Spanish acronym: ONT) is the technical coordination agency tasked with developing functions related to obtaining and subsequent clinical use of organs, tissue and cells.

The Inter-regional Council of the National Health System (Spanish acronym: CISNS) is a permanent coordination body between the autonomous regions and the Central Government, set up to foster cohesion in the National Health System by effectively upholding the rights of citizens to healthcare throughout Spain. It is comprised of the Minister for Health, Social Services and Equality and the healthcare councillors of the autonomous regions and cities with a statute of autonomy.

The budget of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality for 2017 has risen by 7.97% on the figure for 2016, to stand at 2.18 billion euros. This is the largest increase in the budget of this ministerial department since the year 2011.

The National Health System is organised into two levels of care environments, in which accessibility and technological complexity have an inverse relationship. These levels are Primary Care and Specialist Care.

Social Policy

The State Secretariat of Social Services and Equality, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, is the government agency tasked with raising awareness, educating and protecting the rights of the most vulnerable social groups. In order to implement public policies under this State Secretariat, work is principally divided into the following important areas:

Equal opportunities policy

Overseen by the Strategic Plan for Equal Opportunities between Men and Women 2017-2020, this operates as a government instrument to define, in the areas under its powers, the priority goals and measures to eliminate any discrimination on the grounds of sex that may persist and to achieve equal opportunities between men and women.

Fight against poverty and social exclusion

The National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2013-2016 is the main instrument to combat poverty and social exclusion, which has seen its scope extended, although it is pending renewal.

Family and children

On 14 May 2015, the Council of Ministers approved the 2015-2017 Comprehensive Family Support Plan, which seeks to provide a structured response from the government to an explicit, cross-cutting policy, within a coherent framework of principles and objectives, to integrate family support measures that affect practically all of the ministerial departments, in other words, measures that are not the competency of any single department.

Gender-based violence

On 28 September 2017, the Lower House of Parliament adopted an agreement on a State Pact on Gender-based Violence. This is an historic agreement headed up initially by the State Watchdog on Violence against Women, which includes measures to protect women and their children at all times, and covers harm by a third party so that mothers whose children have been murdered by an abuser can be considered as direct victims. This contains 200 measures and a 1-billion euro provision over the first five years. The agreement was reached after seven months of work, 43 sittings and 66 appearances by expert witnesses. It provides for 10 lines of action to prevent gender-based violence as from a school age, extend protection and change the criteria for the classification of victims to include those who have not even lodged an official complaint, guaranteeing their safety and that of their children. It also provides for economic support for a period of six months so that women who are victims of abuse can begin their new life.

Support for persons with disabilities

The Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality and the Royal Society for Disabilities pushed through, with the participation of associated agencies for disability and the other ministerial departments, Royal Legislative Decree 1/2013, of 29 November, which approved the Recast Text of the General Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and their Inclusion in Society.

The elderly

The Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (Spanish acronym: IMSERSO), under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, is a Management Body of the Social Security system through which the Government of Spain implements its policies targeting the elderly. The protection of elderly citizens is the overarching priority for its objectives and actions - as a general rule those who are retired.