The Minister of Health, Marta Temido, was heard, on Wednesday, in Parliament, where she assumed that the “resilience of the NHS [Serviço Nacional de Saúde] was put to the test ”at the start of a year for which it defines“ three fundamental challenges ”to fulfill.
A “acceleration of vaccination against covid-19 and testing expansion”Is the first challenge for 2021 that Marta Temido defined, at the hearing in the Assembly of the Republic, where the minister went on to explain the fight against the pandemic.
The second challenge is “acceleration in the non-covid area, namely in oncology“And the third for”approval of the SNS statute“Which the minister wants to achieve” in the first half of this year, continuing a strategic line “.
These goals were assumed by the minister in Parliament, where she stated that the “SNS resilience has been severely put to the test this first month of the year and the answer was given, although there are things that need to be improved ”.
In the field of oncology, Temido revealed that there are “five thousand registered users for cancer surgery ”. The minister said that a plan is being defined to reduce delays in this field.
Portugal has already administered 415 thousand doses of vaccines
Feared assumed before the deputies who proposed the extension of the administration period between the first and second doses of the vaccine, but explained that the Directorate General of Health (DGS) and the task force that guides the vaccination plan did not allow it. The minister’s idea was to increase the vaccine doses available and, therefore, vaccinate more people.
As to several vaccines available on the market, Temido considered that “the best vaccine is the vaccine you get”.
The Secretary of State for Health, Diogo Serras Lopes, revealed to deputies that Portugal has already administered 415 thousand doses of vaccines since December 27th.
In terms of budgetary expenditure, Marta Temido confirmed that the vaccination plan “immediately represented, initially, a expenditure of 174 million euros, without prejudice to several additional acquisitions that are planned ”.
Feared also revealed in Parliament that the positivity rate is around 14%, which is significantly high, despite the reduction in new infected cases. So he found that “there is still a long way to go”.
Tracking capacity almost tripled
The ability to track covid-19 cases almost tripled between December 2020 and February 2021, the minister said in Parliament.
Marta Temido recalled that the authorities also advanced with the “simplification of epidemiological surveys” and with the “adoption of collaborative models” that allow, “in most of the country”, the guarantee of contact with people in the first 24 hours.
The minister also referred to the “strengthening the screening capacity public health authorities through the mobilization of central and local government officials, students and members of the security and armed forces ”.
“On December 13, the number of professionals, equivalent to full-time, to carry out epidemiological surveys was 427 and on February 4th they surpassed 1,100”, He stated.
Among the measures to respond to the covid-19 pandemic, Marta Temido also recalled the “improvement and expansion of the SNS24 line”, the strengthening of laboratory capacity through a vertical reinforcement program budgeted at 8.4 million euros “which allowed the autonomy to rise from 6,000 PCR tests per day to around 22,000 on the SNS network alone”, and the centralized intensive care financing program.
In this context, the Minister of Health indicated the purchase of more than 1,100 fans since the beginning of the pandemic and also revealed to have signed an order authorizing a “expenditure of more than 9 million euros for expansion” of other intensive care services.
Concerning human resources, Marta Temido highlighted the exceptional hiring regime for responding to covid-19, allowing “the execution of 8,452 contracts which are still active, of which more than 1,300 have already been converted into open-ended contracts ”, with another 800 being tendered and a further 1,251 are“ susceptible of conversion until the end of the first quarter ”.
According to the opening intervention of the governor in the parliamentary Health Commission, the public health network had, at the end of 2020, with more 9,123 workers, including 614 specialist doctors, 3,263 nurses and 3,207 assistants, which resulted in an increase in expenditure that was expected.
1.2 million fewer specialty consultations
Marta Temido also said that the number of hospital specialty consultations fell in 2020, compared to the previous year, due to the response to the pandemic, with 1.2 million fewer consultations.
The “decrease in the main lines of activity” was seen “particularly in the consultation of hospital specialty“, He pointed out.
“In December 2020 there were 1.2 million fewer consultations in view of the volume of 12.4 million consultations that had taken place in 2019 ”, said the minister.
Marta Temido said that the break in activity was also extendable to surgeries, with a “decrease of 126 thousand surgeries compared to a volume of 704 thousand surgeries in 2019 ”, in addition to episodes in hospital emergency services, in which there were 1.8 million fewer than the 6.4 million registered in the previous year.
At the same time, Marta Temido admitted the increase in the number of users without a doctor in 2020, with more than 105 thousand users, due to the increase in the number of active members in primary health care.
“There was a noticeable imbalance between the number of retirements given the inflows of general and family medicine professionals ”, he acknowledged.
However, the Minister of Health pointed out the importance of the incentive mechanism for the recovery of surgeries and first consultations provided for in the Economic and Social Stabilization Program (PEES) for the relaunch of assistance activity in the NHS, regardless of agreements with other sectors of the health system.
Pandemic will leave “a heavy trail” on mental health
The Minister of Health also considered, before the deputies, that “the pandemic will leave a heavy trail on what is the mental health of all of us, both in terms of balance and in terms of deeper mental illness”.
The issue of mental health was raised by deputy of PS Hortense Martins, stating that “Don’t save lives just with physical issues”. “Mental health is also important to save those same lives”, he defended.
In response, Marta Temido stated that there is much to do in systems in this area, namely patients who are awaiting discharge due to lack of social conditions.
Thus, the minister indicated that the intention is to “complete the reform of the application of the National Mental Health Plan and the reform of what is the work of psychiatric hospitals by integrating them, developing psychiatric units in general hospitals and creating assisted residences for patients who they have no alternative ”.