The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the local administrations’ lack of preparedness when it comes to health emergencies. When the Spanish government declared the state of emergency, the risk of contagious diseases was not covered by the local administrations’ and civil protection’s emergency plans, nor did local health plans include provisions for dealing with health crises.
During the first wave of the pandemic, in the province of Barcelona only one-third of local councils managed to implement a response to the health emergency with a good level of coordination despite being unprepared. The rest stated that they encountered bureaucratic obstacles, lack of resources or lack of institutional support.
Local administrations in Catalonia have legal obligations in terms of protecting people’s health against environmental and food risks, and promoting healthier lifestyles among the population.
As a supra-municipal body, Barcelona Provincial Council provides technical, economic, legal and technological support to local councils to carry out these responsibilities and contribute to making towns and cities healthier and more resilient. With this objective, after the first wave of the pandemic in May 2020, Barcelona Provincial Council carried out an assessment of the impact of the pandemic on local public health structures. The conclusions of the analysis underlined the need to:
- promote the creation of contingency plans for municipal public health services to tackle Covid-19;
- adapt local health plans to address health crises.
The work carried out is aligned with the spirit of overcoming the social and economic effects caused by the pandemic, improving the quality of public services, and boosting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, in accordance with the principles set out by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support and the Technical Support Instrument (TSI).