Spain to spend EUR 333 million to fight swine flu
The Spanish government approved Friday a special credit line of EUR 333 million (USD 475 million) to finance vaccinations and other steps to prevent the spread of swine flu.Madrid - The Spanish government approved Friday a special credit line of EUR 333 million (USD 475 million) to finance vaccinations and other steps to prevent the spread of swine flu.
Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his government would "spare no effort or economic resources" in preventative measures against the illness which has so far killed 20 people in Spain.
"We have good reason to send a message of tranquillity to the citizens of our country because we have a great health system which is ready to face situations like this," he told reporters following a weekly cabinet meeting which approved the measure.
The government will spend EUR 270 million on swine flu vaccinations and the material to apply them, another EUR 50 million on antiviral drugs and EUR 12 million on public awareness campaigns on steps to avoid the disease.
It will also spend one million euros on complementary treatments other than antiviral drugs to treat those infected with the A(H1N1) virus.
Spain plans to vaccinate up to 40 percent of Spain's population of around 46 million people against swine flu.
The vaccinations are expected to start in late October or early November when the laboratories provide them, Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said Thursday.
The first to benefit would be health workers and others in essential services, pregnant women, children under age 14 and people suffering from illnesses such as cardiovascular or respiratory diseases that put them at a higher risk.
"We will have the vaccines at the same time as all other European nations," Zapatero said.
The prime minister said he would head a new commission which will be created to coordinate efforts to contain the spread of the disease.
The government will also mobilise over 200 medical researchers to study measures to control and prevent swine flu and recommend the best treatments for high-risk groups.
Spain's public health care system, which offers universal coverage as a constitutionally-guaranteed right with no out-of-pocket expenses aside from prescrip/tion drugs, is ranked the seventh best in the world by the World Health Organisation.
AFP / Expatica