The Lancet medical journal has warned that Portugal is one of only four countries – out of 33 analysed by the World Health Organisation – that reduced public health expenditure since 2000. As a result, the state health service is ‘failing to respond to the need of populations’. Hospitals are underfunded, equipment is sub-standard, staff are demotivated and leaving for the private sector and certain elective procedures are “becoming restricted” to the population that can afford private care.
In an editorial published over the weekend, the prestigious medical journal warned that politicians have to make a stand.
Portugal’s “child poverty rates are above the EU average, and the ageing population, one of the oldest in Europe, is unhealthy with a poor quality of life in later years”.
“On October 6, Partido Socialista, a centre-left-wing political party, won the general election, despite failing to secure a majority. In his manifesto, António Costa, the party’s leader, established four major challenges to be addressed by the next government: climate change, demography, the transition to a digital society, and inequality. At a time when the national health-care system no longer meets the needs of a substantial part of the population, the re-elected government must take this new opportunity to prioritise health and make health care accessible for all”.
The exhortation has been picked up by SIM, Portugal’s independent syndicate of doctors, which stresses that it is waiting to see what priority health is being given in the Government’s State Budget for 2020.
The draft State Budget is being presented to Brussels today.
Over the weekend, President Marcelo told journalists he too is waiting to see what the government has in mind to improve the state of the country’s struggling health system.