On October 1, with cases of coronavirus escalating throughout Spain and a few weeks after the second state of general alarm was decreed, the Ministry of Health He was not aware of how many trackers each region had to try to minimize the effects of the pandemic before it raged again.
This is admitted by the cabinet led by Salvador Illa in his response to a request for information from ABC in which the Ministry was asked, precisely, about the staff of these health personnel available in each autonomy. «The Ministry of Health does not have disaggregated data of the number of trackers by Autonomous Communities, with their Health Departments responsible for providing such information, ”reads this brief resolution.
The frankness with which the Ministry expresses, in an official document, its ignorance is surprising. Especially when it comes to an aspect that, according to the Royal Decree Law of “New normal”, Health should know, since the trackers are part of the health personnel available in each autonomous community to face the coronavirus health emergency.
This rule, which laid the foundations of social behavior at the end of the de-escalation, and which establishes, for example, the mandatory nature of the mask in any space provided that the safety distance cannot be maintained, details in its article 30 the information that the autonomies They have to send to Health to guarantee the capacities of the health system and, if necessary, reinforce it. Said epigraph states that the Autonomous Communities must promptly send the Ministry information “on the situation of the assistance capacity and human and material resource needs“, Although it is subject to the terms that Health deems appropriate after consulting with the regions themselves.
According to this sentence, two conclusions can be drawn. Either the Ministry has not considered it relevant enough to be informed of the number of trackers in each community to request it from each of its Health Departments, something that would be strange by virtue of the importance given to tracking by the cabinet and epidemiological experts ; or the Ministry uses this excuse not to provide the data.
In any case, the general director of Public Health, Pilar Azcárraga, initiates in said official document that the Ministry does not have evidence of this calculation and refers the applicant to ask the 19 autonomies for the data in each of them if you want to meet him. It should be remembered that, although the regions can make their own decisions – more now with the second state of alarm -, they must submit to the supervision of the Ministry in the fundamental issues to contain the coronavirus pandemic in accordance with the decree of “New normality”, which will lose validity when the health emergency is overcome.
“It is chaos”
It is practically impossible, despite the numerous press conferences that Fernando Simón has offered, to find the real number of trackers in Spain. And these difficulties are also being encountered by the unions, which since the beginning of the pandemic have not been able to obtain reliable data from the Administration either. “The issue of trackers is chaos, there is a lack of absolute transparency,” lament official sources of the State Confederation of Medical Unions (CESM), from where they show that the opacity of the Ministry by not offering how many there are prevents them from working correctly to assess whether the situation is adequate or not: “We do not know how many there are or how many are contracted medical trackers. It costs a lot to have reliable data».
The only way to achieve this is by searching community by community and trusting the figure that each one of them gives without the possibility of controlling or verifying it. El País offered a calculation according to this method that put the figure around 8,000. However, Castilla y León, in the web portal enabled to report on the evolution of the pandemic in said territory, provides data that can serve as guidance and that figures the minimum number of trackers established by the Ministry: one for every 5,000 inhabitants .
In accordance with this rule, and in the absence of certainties on the part of the Administration, it could be calculated that in Spain some 9,400 trackers. The outgoing president of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology, Pere Godoy, warns at this point that the number of trackers can be variable, especially by virtue of the qualification of the professionals who attend this work: «I would not dare to say an exact number. It may vary depending on the role that Primary Care plays. If, for example, there are a lot of nurses with the contact study, you may not need such a high number.
In one way or another, the Ministry admits that, at the time when it was possible to avoid – or at least stop something – the incidence of the pandemic, they did not know that figure, so they could not assess whether it was adequate. Right after, during the month of October, the cases escalated again and the situation became almost unsustainable in many regions, a scenario that led to the second state of alarm. There is no going back, but epidemiologists warn that the battle against coronavirus is not over yet, so perhaps it would be convenient to take note of the aspects that have not worked so far to improve them.
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