The prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, claimed that “some regional authorities were probably too fast at reopening and too slow at implementing an efficient track-and-trace system”.
In August the magazine published two open letters, written by Spanish researchers, requesting an independent assessment of the pandemic response in the country and for more rigorous and comprehensive data to understand the dynamics of coronavirus.
The resulting editorial, entitled, COVID-19 in Spain: A predictable Storm?, noted that even though, Spain created a centre for the coordination of health alerts and emergencies in 2004, the pandemic highlighted, the country’s, “weak surveillance systems, low capacity for PCR tests, and scarcity of personal protective equipment and critical care equipment, a delayed reaction by central and regional authorities, slow decision-making processes, high levels of population mobility and migration, poor coordination among central and regional authorities, low reliance on scientific advice, an ageing population, vulnerable groups experiencing health and social inequalities, and a lack of preparedness in nursing homes.”
The article also noted that, the Spanish health system’s four pillars – governance, finance, delivery, and workforce – “were already fragile when they were overwhelmed by Covid-19 in March,” adding that, “Health services are understaffed, under-resourced, and under strain. With 5.9 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants, Spain has one of the lowest ratios in the EU (where the average is 9.3 per 1,000), and too often relies on temporary contracts that can run for just a few days or weeks,”
In conclusion, they also added that “Spain’s political polarisation and decentralised governance might also have hampered the rapidity and efficiency of the public health response.”
However, on a brighter note, they also drew attention to a latest Global Burden of Disease, analysis, completed, pre-pandemic, in 2019, which shows that Spain overperforms in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy.
“If Spain’s political leaders can draw the lessons from their sub-optimal response to Covid-19, the country is very well placed to give its population a bright and healthy future.” Concluded the editorial.