Seven communities lower their Health budget or raise it by less than 1% after two years of the pandemic

Many things have been made clear by the coronavirus pandemic that Spain is already facing from another prism, but if there is one that has prevailed over the others, it is the importance of have robust healthcare. However, not all communities have transferred the lesson in the form of investment to public accounts for this 2022. Although the general budget has increased by 4.5% compared to a year earlier, in up to four communities the increase is not enough not even 1%, another practically maintains the same expense and even two have decided to dedicate less resources to health this year.

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These are some of the data contained in an analysis made public this Wednesday by Amnesty International, which describes the escalation of the global budget as "slight and insufficient": 4.5% represents less than half of what health spending grew in 2020 , the year in which health had to make an unusual effort to stop the effects of the virus. Hospitals and health centers had never had to face a similar situation and they did so after a "lost decade" plagued by cuts, but now, two years later, "public health is still at the limit", diagnoses the NGO.

Not all the communities have reacted in the same way and there are great territorial differences: the rise has been barely perceptible, below 1%, in the Balearic Islands, Murcia, Navarra and Galicia, while Aragón and Castilla-La Mancha contemplate in their Budgets spend less on health than in 2021 and accumulate a decrease of 4.9% and 1.2% respectively. La Rioja, for its part, remains practically the same and Castilla y León has not been analyzed due to having the 2021 budget extended.

On the other side of the table are Catalonia and Madrid, the two communities that increased their investment the most in 2022 with figures close to 10%: 9.9% and 8.36% rise respectively. They are followed by Extremadura (7.03%) and Andalusia (6.23%). And all of them make up a group of communities that Amnesty International calls on "to maintain this upward trend" and to increase their investment even more, but the organization's overall assessment is that, in general, the communities "are not complying with its obligation to progressively achieve the full realization of the right to health.

The data compiled by the NGO breaks down what part of the budget is specifically allocated to personnel: the communities as a whole dedicate 7.1% more to this expense than in 2021, but only two have increased the investment by more than 10%. They are Catalonia (20.65%) and the Community of Madrid (12.46%), where doctors have maintained a strike due to the high temporality of the templateswhich reaches 52% in hospitals and 35% in Primary Care with thousands of professionals who chain precarious contracts.

The Valencian Community (7.87%) and the Canary Islands (6.22%) exceeded 5% increase. Below are Extremadura (3.98%), the Balearic Islands (3.22%), Euskadi (2.13%), Asturias (2%), Aragón (1.81%) and Castilla-La Mancha (0.5 %). Lastly, Navarra, Galicia and La Rioja invested practically the same, while Cantabria and Murcia have budgeted less (-1.87% and -1.28% respectively).

Without a "decided commitment" to Primary Care

The analysis serves as the basis for Amnesty International's new campaign, with which it specifically demands that public administrations make a greater effort to strengthen Primary Care, the great victim of the crisis. The organization regrets that this leg of health has "starred in the declarations of the authorities" since the COVID broke out, but at the same time this crystallizes in budgets with an investment that it considers scarce. That is why he asks governments to double spending in the coming years "to recover the weight lost in this level of care."

Although six communities have not provided broken down figures, the set of investment related to the ten that have done so grows in the 2022 budgets by 8.47%. An increase that for the organization "is positive", but considers that "it does not correspond to a decisive commitment to reinforce Primary Care" and that "it barely has an impact in terms of recovery of investment in the most marginalized care level" of the system. In fact, its weight in total health spending does not reach 15%, far from the budget horizon of 25% recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Of the communities for which there is information, the ones that have increased their investment in Primary Care the most compared to 2021 are four: the case of La Rioja stands out, which almost reached a rise of 20%, although in general terms it has not increased its budget , but dedicates a greater proportion of it to this level of care. It is followed by Catalonia, Murcia and the Balearic Islands, in which the budget grows by more than 10%.

Below are Madrid, Cantabria, Extremadura, Canary Islands and Navarra, while only one, Galicia, dedicates fewer resources to this level of care than a year earlier and specifically registers a drop of 1.9%. "Two years after the applause and tributes that the population dedicated to health personnel from balconies throughout the country during the pandemic, Primary Care personnel are exhausted and overwhelmed," laments the organization.

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