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Loulé will have the country’s first University Health Centre, reinforcing future healthcare in the region

41health centreThe municipality of Loulé has presented three projects that will reinforce the provision of health care to the population, in a large investment that amounts to 4.2 million euros: this covers a new Health Facility in Loulé and the renovation of the health extensions in Almancil and Quarteira.

The presentation ceremony, which took place at the Cineteatro Louletano, on Friday, May 15th, was attended by the Assistant Secretary of State and Health Jamila Madeira, who approved the conclusion of the interadministrative contract for the work in Loulé, signed by the mayor, Vítor Aleixo, and by the president of the Regional Health Administration (ARS) of the Algarve, Paulo Morgado.

The new facilities will integrate four areas, with emphasis on the creation of the first University Health Centre in the country, constituting “the result of a strategic project that the Council is developing in partnership with the University of Algarve, through its Academic Centre”, says the Mayor of Loulé.

As the president of the ARS explained, there is “a vision of the future” as this building will be prepared from scratch for university student education for those seeking to join the healthcare workforce.

“Our medical students have classes at a set of health centres in the region but here, in Loulé, they will be taught by their mentors with first-class conditions, taking advantage of these facilities and the equipment that we will make available to them”, guaranteed Paulo Morgado.

The new building will also include modern facilities for the headquarters of the Grouping of Algarve Health Centres, the Lauroé Family Health Unit, which serves 13,700 users currently, covering some rural parishes in the municipality, and the Community Care Unit – UCC Gentes de Loulé, the largest in the region, which will be equipped with wider and more up-to-date facilities.

This part of the works represents an investment in the order of 3.7 million euros of the total, of which 65 percent will be supported by the Council and the other 35 percent will be covered by ARS Algarve. The tender launch is expected to open for the execution of the work by the end of the month, and the building could be a reality in two years.

As for the current building of the Health Centre, the mayor of Loulé guaranteed that, with the transfer of competences in the area of ??health, when the City Council receives the management of this space, it will carry out renovation works on the old building. We shall see if this promise is lived up to though.

But it is not only in the city of Loulé that the national health service will be strengthened in terms of equipment. The two parishes with the highest demographic growth in recent years, Almancil and Quarteira, will also benefit from an improvement in their health facilities.

In the case of Almancil, the health extension will be extended to the area where the Junta de Freguesia building is currently located, thus doubling its area.

The intervention will involve the creation of 8 new medical offices, among other spaces, in an investment budgeted at 325 thousand euros.

As for the extension of the Health Centre in Quarteira, the expansion will include the creation of a new block covering about 200 square meters (m2), where seven new medical offices and a treatment room will be created. This work is expected to have a total cost of 200 thousand euros. Both projects are in the preliminary study phase.

Paulo Morgado praised the “availability of the municipality of Loulé” for these investments that will be decisive for Loulé to have 100 percent coverage in terms of users having family doctors.

Especially because at the moment there are a mere 11 doctors who are working in the specialty of General and Family Medicine in the municipality.

“We have the clear notion that only by increasing human resources, thus strengthening the response capacity, but above all by creating a network of primary health care that allows us to anticipate all the health problems that citizens face will we be able to have a response at the necessary level to different treatments,”said Jamila Madeira, stressing the importance of these interventions that will benefit the Algarve.

On an afternoon when the words of the participants also converged on the pandemic situation and the way Portugal has faced the challenges that have been posed, the importance of the National Health Service (SNS) in responding to the outbreak was highlighted during this session. “If there are things we have learned from this pandemic, it is worthwhile to invest in public health, particularly in the NHS. This crisis has made us wake up and realize that far worse than the level of lethality of the virus is the absence of a robust health system to deal with this situation, and this is showing up all over the world. Our SNS was attacked for years but, fortunately, it was not wiped out and what was left of it allowed us, even so, to face this pandemic”, highlighted Vítor Aleixo.

In turn, according to the Secretary of State, for the good results of the country in the fight against COVID-19, it was essential that Portugal’s healthcare was “structured in a strong, resilient” manner.

Speaking of the pandemic, she also said that the dedication of all health professionals, the commitment on the part of all municipalities in anticipating scenarios and building solutions and even all volunteers. She also underlined the role of the Centro Hospitalar e Universitário do Algarve (CHUA) as “one of the best examples in the whole country” in overcoming the problems that Portugal has faced under COVID-19 so far.