According to what has been seen in the course of “Economics of Health and Health Care” (EHC), health is a state of physical and psychological well-being, depending its degree of satisfaction on the environment where it is analysed and on the influencing factors considered (multidimensional analysis). The way people treat their “health problems” is then through the use of medicines or medical treatment (health care). Regarding Heath Care Sector in particular, it was also seen class through the analysis of the past values of investment by the government in the national health system (SNS) that 1) it has been increasing following the tendency of most other European countries; 2) it has increased its importance when in terms of % of the national GDP.
As is almost worldwide known I would risk saying, Portugal is one of three European countries suffering an economical intervention by international agencies. From a broad point of view, since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, the Portuguese economy has suffered several downsizes mainly due to the low return on investment. Consequently the supply of products and services decreases and there is an economic break as people demand for the same lifestyle as they had before – higher than supply. This situation led Portugal to need help from other countries and international agencies like IMF – International Monetary Fund, came and discuss tactics to be applied by the government in order to reduce the country deficit and assure conditions for debt repayment, promoting this way economic growth.
If one searches for the Portuguese tendencies in demographic terms, Portugal´s population structure consists on about 67% of adults, 16% children and 17% elderly people. The Portuguese population growth is almost null even though the country presents one of the lowest rate of infant mortality of the world according to the UNICEF – United Nations Children´s Fund.
Once in deep crisis, the financial situation of the Portuguese families gets harder to deal with as more and more people lose their job or suffer cuts in their income which consequently harms their lifestyle. Some of this situations might lead people to become “unhealthier” as they have more to worry about like on one hand the pressure to find a job or the opposite, having more and harder work, or even how will they manage their funds to pay all their bills. These kind of concerns can indeed produce some disturbance and increase the amount of people demanding for health care.
Taking this data and the fact of Portugal being a country with help from external parties, one can assume that people needs are increasing while existing capacities of services and medicines supply are lower. According to Constantino Sakellarides, from the Portuguese Health System Observatory, as of the three countries with intervention from the IMF, Portugal is the one having the best SNS and is far from the other´s situation, but is this enough? The hard budgetary adjustment effort might led to a detrition of the SNS in the short-run but does that mean the SNS is going down in the long-run or will it be able to keep the Health Care demand satisfied?
From my personal point of view, the adjustments the country has been suffering is noticed in the Health Care system through the news on hospitals and health care centres closing down and some medicines sold out. However, I did not notice yet any experience of people actually passing away for no medical attention or care. The policies being applied might be tough but we will be able to overcome it the best way and assure the health care to everyone.
José Miguel Filipe
#1586 Masters in Management