40th Ann of the National Health Service - A History for Generations
At the age of 40, the Portuguese National Health Service (SNS) is taking a fresh look at its history. A look that re ects all its achievements, in improved health and the promotion of social rights, but, above all, a look that re ects a con dence in its ability to overcome the challenges of the future.
The SNS changed Portugal. It painted the country with the colours of universality, equality and bene ts to health, which translated into social value, economic growth and improvement in the population’s quality of life. Over these four decades, it has been possible to realise the dream of its founders: the SNS has become one of the most solid pillars of society.
Today, there is broad consensus around the idea that the constitutional right to health protection should continue to be carried out by the SNS, heading towards universal health cover. A goal that o ers a solution to the entire population, relating to all types of care and safeguarding nancial protection against the costs of illness. In other words, a virtuous combination to which the SNS responds with its characteristic tendency to be universal, general and free of charge.
The credit for the consensus reached in relation to the SNS can be attributed, in particular, to the health professionals who have contributed with dedication and commitment to strengthening the service. The SNS grew alongside generations. And it is still expanding because, today, the people of Portugal see health as a right. This sentiment is one of the great achievements of democracy.
But celebrating the history of the SNS also requires a lucid confrontation of the challenges of the future.
Because it is not possible to defend the SNS without understanding that, in the last 40 years, the country has changed demographically, epidemiologically, economically and socially and there is increasing demand on the performance that society expects of its public services, all of which requires investment and transformation.
An SNS focused on promoting health and on prevention, able to guarantee the best diagnosis and integrated treatment of illnesses, open to innovation, to organisational learning and clinical research, totally committed to satisfying people’s needs with dignity and humanity: this is the SNS we want to build.
Investment in and transformation of the SNS aim to serve a country that wants to be more cohesive, more equitable, more socially and economically fair, more productive and with improved levels of wellbeing. Recent years have borne witness to the path taken, but also to the path still to be travelled.
For all these reasons, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the SNS with our eyes on the future. A future that begins today. Or one that began forty years ago.