Health, Quality of life & Care for the Elderly

The Basque Country has furnished itself with a very advanced healthcare system, in which pride of place is taken by the Public Health Service (Osakidetza), which guarantees universal and “free” care, with medical cover extending to over two million people. This health system requires a major collective effort. Suffice to say that Osakidetza is the largest employer in the Basque Country, with over 33,000 personnel and an annual budget of 2.55 billion euros (25% of the Basque Government’s budget). To complement this health service, there is a range of care services provided by Provincial Councils and Local Authorities.

Certain considerations about the System:

A) Regarding Health as a Healthcare Investment Cost. The following would be expedient:

  1. Continue to improve the internal efficiency of processes and resources.
  2. Coordinated management of the public and private sectors.
  3. Research: Extend the way health is seen to non-clinical or non-pathological disciplines that arise from or are closely linked to clinical and pathological practice.

B) “Exploiting” our investment in Health

There is a need to leverage the research process to gain returns for our health system that will help it to advance and contribute to its financial sustainability. Furthermore, we should provide the framework for a thriving health sector within our economic activities, as a way of creating jobs.

C) Care for the elderly

One of the more salient aspects of modern Basque society, and one that is likely to gain in importance over the coming years, is the problem of ageing, and in particular, the issues revolving around the care for the elderly when they become significantly disabled.

The segment of elderly people, whose wealth and experience enable them to enjoy life to the full, is a resource of unquestionable value for society, but one that is not always appreciated. Hence the reason that Metropolitan Bilbao should consider the needs and limitations of the elderly by making Bilbao a city and environment that is truly prepared to provide a home, respect and care for them. The successes stemming from advances in medicine and healthcare technologies have managed to “add years to life”; nevertheless, the challenge is how to enjoy them, bearing in mind that health is synonymous with personal fulfilment and wellbeing.

The rate of ageing in the Basque Country continues its upward trend. Faced with this problem, there is a need to incentivise policies that adjust to current circumstances, with the aim being to guarantee the system’s sustainability. Intergenerational coexistence should be one of the future’s main priorities. This means exploiting the talent available among those aged over 65, while not discriminating against young people without experience, as our pension system relies on their inclusion in the job market.