EUREGHA is extremely pleased to welcome another new full member to our network: Basque Country Department of Health. Basque Country is located in the north of Spain on the Atlantic coast and is one of the most autonomous regions in Spain. The Basque Government has full autonomy in most policies, including health, meaning it is fully competent to provide health care and public health services to its approx. 2 million inhabitants. The Basque Government views health improvement and promotion as a clear priority for the region; the biggest chunk of its budget is dedicated to health. The other two strategic pillars of the government are industry and energy. The Department of Health is very well connected to other sectors of government, such as environment and urban planning, clearly adopting and promoting a cross-sectoral approach to health, also in working with provincial and local authorities.
“The biggest budget of the Basque Government goes to health, not only because we are a service provider but also because health is a clear priority from a social, industrial, and even political perspective. Even before COVID-19 came, health was a strong focus in Basque Country.”
In addition to their good relations with other Spanish regions and the central government in Madrid, they are looking towards Europe for more connections with other European regions in the field of health and social care. Itziar Larizgoitia Jauregui, Director of Public Health, said:
“It is important for our region to be part of a learning platform where we can exchange knowledge and learn of new developments in the health sector elsewhere in Europe. After all, many issues faced by regional authorities are similar.”
In addition to forming European partnerships, other priorities of the Basque Department of Health include personalized medicine, digital health, neuroscience, mental health, and fostering healthy environments and development for children, adolescents, and the elderly. This is where the cross-sectoral approach is helpful, because to achieve progress on these issues does not only require improving the delivery of healthcare services, but also working to reorganize urban planning.
Basque Country has a very active office in Brussels working on their government’s main pillars: industry, energy, and health. This autumn, you can also find the Basque Prime Minister at the annual European Health Forum in Gastein, presenting the project JADECARE. They are also hoping to pass a new public health law after the summer. After that, focus will turn to the development of new plans and policies, as the Basque Regional Government’s term of four years expires next year and Basque Country will be preparing for elections and a new government cycle.
Do you want to know more about our newest member? Have a look at the full interview with Itziar Larizgoitia Jauregui, Director of Public Health and Marian Angeles Ibarrondo Unamunzaga, Director of Research and Innovation here.