Over 30 organizations fail Spain in social, economic, and cultural rights in the ‘Shadow Report’ presented today in Geneva
Over the course of today and tomorrow, Spain will be put to the test by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR Committee), which will assess to what extent our country meets – if at all – the rights contained in the corresponding convention. To coincide with this assessment, 36 organizations, including Salud por Derecho, have put their names to the ‘Shadow Report’ which examines compliance by Spain with its obligations in these matters.
With regard to the right to healthcare, the signatory organizations of the report criticise deficiencies in the financing of the Spanish health service as a result of constant cuts in public spending affecting the quality of the service, the number of beds, and the working conditions of staff.
The change to the way medicines are paid for with a system of co-payment has seriously affected those persons in the most precarious economic circumstances. Although there are no official statistics to measure the number of people who have not been able to access medicines as a result of co-payment, the 2016 Health Barometer points out that 4.4% of people asked had stopped taking a medicine prescribed by a doctor working for the public health service for economic reasons (this percentage, if extended to the overall population of the country, would be equivalent to over 2 million people).
As a result of co-payment, and despite the fact that public spending has gone down in all sectors of the health service, the biggest reduction has been in the cost of medicines dispensed by pharmacies. According to official figures, between 2010 and 2015 this expenditure has been cut by 21.6%, and essential medicines have been excluded from the list of those that are publicly funded, which has had a direct effect on the pockets of every patient. Meanwhile, prices and spending on medicines used in hospitals have gone up, which has had a worrying impact on the Spanish Health Service and on access to medicines for thousands of people.
Lastly, in the document being presented in Geneva today we publish data on the consequences of Royal Decree Law 16/2012 which put an end to universal healthcare in our country, with the direct exclusion of the adult immigrant population from the healthcare system if they do not have a residence permit. These people have had their right to access healthcare limited to emergency situations in the event of serious illness or accident, pregnancy, giving birth, and post-natal care, people applying for international asylum or victims of trafficking: over 3,800 cases have been documented of people excluded from the Spanish Health Service between January 2014 and September 2017.
Spain is under a duty to ensure that all people have a right to enjoy the highest possible level of physical and mental health. However, since 2012, austerity policies and rules implemented in connection with the economic crisis and under the pretext of stimulating the economy have led to a significant reversal in the recognition and enjoyment of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) and the economic and social inequality gap in Spain has widened as a result.