A World Health Organisation(WHO) report has praised Spain’s health service and says health costs are lower than most other European countries.

The WHO-Europe study says that despite a worsening economic situation during and after the 2008 financial crisis, only a small number of households have experienced financial hardship when using health services in Spain.

The report attributes that to the ‘protective design’ of health coverage in the country’s National Health System.

Launching the report, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, said:

“Health care is a fundamental right and should never leave people out of pocket. I am pleased to see that Spain is leading the way in our region.”

“These are positive and encouraging findings, showing that limiting the use of co-payments, and practical measures such as reducing co-payments for medicines for chronic conditions, exempting disadvantaged groups and introducing income-based caps, go a long way in protecting Spanish households from financial hardship, “ he added.

Despite the praise for Spain’s public health system, the report has still identified some gaps in coverage.

It says that public funding for dental and optical care is limited, which leads to financial hardship for some people which means people don’t get the kind of care they need.

The WHO study said that waiting times for secondary care consultations and surgery are another ‘long-standing and growing challenge’.

The report’s authors concluded: “There is room for improvement. Better access and financial protection will involve expanding public of dental and optical care, as well extending caps on co-payments to working-age people.

“Renewed efforts to reduce waiting times are needed in addition to steps to cut administrative barriers to health access for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers.”

Image Credit: Cordon Press

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