“Smoking must be prohibited in cars and smoking must be prohibited anywhere.”

“Smoking must be prohibited in cars and smoking must be prohibited anywhere.”

What are the main threats to the right to health?

In Spain, one of the main threats is aging. We have one of the highest life expectancies, which is a positive thing but it means an increase in chronic diseases. In addition, there are populations, such as recent immigrants or the homeless, who have difficulties accessing the system and we may face a public health problem because 50% of new TB cases occur in this group, who also suffer from AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and It is necessary for them to have access to health care to reduce chains of transmission.


Waiting lists, prices for glasses or the dentist…do they also restrict the right to health?

In Spain, we are very lucky to have a universal system, but we have to realize that waiting lists can affect the quality of life and exacerbate some diseases. In addition, a portion of the population cannot access these two basic services, or does so with difficulty.

What diseases are most worrisome in the medium and long term?

Cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death, although globally it is cancer that will grow the most between now and 2030. And after that, diabetes. It is estimated that 10% are infected with this disease, but a large percentage do not know it. Diabetes is also associated with obesity or overweight, which affects 35% of the world's population and is in turn linked to lack of physical exercise and diet. In Spain, recent years have also seen a slight increase in TB cases, because the coronavirus has degraded the surveillance network. Finally, there are concerns about antibiotic resistance, which could put the healthcare system in a difficult position.

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What is the impact of climate change on health?

It poses a threat because there are resounding indications that vector-borne diseases, which are transmitted by insects such as mosquitoes or ticks, are on the rise. In addition, high temperatures cause deaths due to heat stroke, which is an issue to be aware of. Heat waves increase hospital admissions for some chronic diseases. Air pollution is also getting worse and some particulate matter affects coronary heart diseases and others.


Microplastics or industrial foods?

Microplastics pollute land and water and can enter the food chain, where animals ingest them, which poses a risk and is already known to affect hormones. It is a top priority that global action is implemented to reduce the use of plastics. Consumption of ultra-processed foods is a risk factor for weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

And you live too glued to screens?

Screens have negative effects on mental and emotional health because they reduce the ability to interact. Being constantly connected creates stress and anxiety. We need strategies to reduce screen use, which is also linked to decreased physical activity and obesity.

What duties will you place on departments?

a lot of. First of all, they must understand that health is not the absence of disease, but much more than that: it is everything that is linked to determinants of health such as housing, work, environment… Moreover, in the case of aging it requires much more than that. Investing in primary care and another key aspect is tobacco. Spain is in a position to radically address this issue, for example banning smoking in vehicles with children in it, considering the complete elimination of smoke anywhere and increasing taxes as it is one of the countries that taxes tobacco the least. There is also a lot to do in the food industry, such as reducing fat and salt in ultra-processed foods. The government should stop researching and punishing sugary drinks with taxes, as Catalonia did, because it is a measure that reduces consumption. In the face of climate change, it is necessary to reduce emissions and encourage travel on foot or by bicycle.

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Could there be another pandemic?

clearly. For example, since the Middle Ages we have seen 28 influenza pandemics, which is when a new strain appears and we have no immunity. In today's society, globalization, rising temperatures and loss of biodiversity make it easier for any virus or bacteria to jump into the human race and spread.


When could it happen?

We don't have a crystal ball, but it won't be long.

Is Spain ready to face a new pandemic?

It's not easy to answer. I'll start with the positive side. In the face of the Corona virus, some things have been done well, especially mass vaccination, but also diagnostic capacity and international coordination, and a group of experts has been commissioned to carry out the assessment. This group noted that matters remain outstanding, such as the surveillance system, which must be improved to be able to detect any future pandemic and, once detected, quickly establish controls and isolate cases. It is also essential to improve communication with primary care and the topic at the top of everything: protective equipment. Spain must have the industrial capacity to produce it.

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