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  • The coronavirus crisis has challenged many countries’ healthcare models.

    The coronavirus crisis has challenged many countries’ healthcare models. | Photo: EFE

Published 18 March 2020
Opinion

The fourth most affected country after China, Italy, and Iran decided to temporarily nationalize private hospitals and health care providers.

Spain’s center-left government took an unprecedented measure when it announced Monday that private hospitals and health care providers would be temporarily nationalized in a bid to combat the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

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As the COVID-19 disease continues to grip the country making it the fourth most affected worldwide with 14,769 confirmed cases as of Wednesday and 638 deaths, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s administration decided to step up its response to better manage the pandemic, and a took over private hospitals and healthcare providers.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said private healthcare facilities and materials such as face masks and tests would be requisitioned for coronavirus patients, while companies and suppliers of needed equipment had 48 hours to notify the government.

Fourth-year medical students were also called on to reinforce health centers and hospitals across the country.

The coronavirus crisis has challenged many countries’ healthcare models. In some states such as the United States, it has prompted heavy criticism as for some, it further revealed a system managed not for the benefit of the people but rather for profit-seeking private healthcare providers. 

Spain had already declared a state of emergency Saturday. All the main cities had closed restaurants, bars, and shops; except for supermarkets and pharmacies. Authorities are using drones to supervise the movements of its citizens.

A lot is at stake for the newly formed Spanish government as Spaniards are anxious to know what it will do to help out those whose lives were turned upside down by the crisis, including people who were temporarily laid off or lost their jobs or those who are now struggling to pay their rent among other things.

“This is a coalition government, and it’s their first enormous test of unity, because Podemos, of course, is to the left, and they are really pressing for a more generous package for working people especially,” Spanish journalist Maria Carrion told Democracy Now.

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