The Top 5 Health Tech Companies in SpainThe world of health technology has been growing exponentially in the last decade and continues to grow, especially with the novel coronavirus still affecting the world. One of the most prominent locations for health technology is in Spain. The industry has a large quantity of health tech company startups in Spain; high-quality companies are making new drug discoveries for treatments and creating virtual therapies that can help those in impoverished areas receive the medical care they need. Here are the top five health tech companies making strides in Spain.

The Top 5 Health Tech Companies in Spain

  1. Elma Care is an app that combines comprehensive health insurance with remote medical consultations. This great new resource emerged in Barcelona, Spain, in 2017. Elma Care is one of the top five health tech companies in Spain because the app keeps all of a patient’s medical information in one place, allows consultation with primary care physicians remotely and offers tools like preventative medicine plans to help people access healthcare with more ease and efficiency. All of this is possible from the comfort and safety of the home, allowing for social distancing during the current global pandemic.
  2. Devicare is a specialty biotech company that focuses on chronic diseases. The company, founded in Barcelona, Spain, strives to develop solutions for the treatment process of chronic diseases. The company also offers a mentoring service with a team of experts and nursing staff. Often, chronic diseases involve a multitude of doctor visits and, in many cases, few answers. However, Devicare offers a cheaper and easier way of treating chronic diseases.
  3. Savana Medica provides a platform in which the clinical data for patients from healthcare organizations can be managed. EHRead, a form of Artificial Intelligence, or AI, technology, can obtain valuable health information that aids medical professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. It is one of the top five health tech companies in Spain because this technology fosters quick and efficient access to records, which can help doctors understand a patient’s history of disease and illness.
  4. Genomcore is a company that has created an interface that stores a patient’s genetic information. Founded in 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, the platform that Genomcore provides for patient information can be efficiently shared with medical professionals when necessary. Genomcore helps foster more personalized treatment for patients and consequently the possibility of faster recovery from illness.
  5. Mediktor was founded in 2011 but has made a new name for itself due to increased use during the pandemic. Mediktor is an app that gives symptom assessments to patients via their own personal devices before even seeing a medical professional. In March 2020, the company released the COVID-19 symptom checker. With Mediktor, people were able to determine, with great accuracy, whether or not they needed to see a medical professional in relation to COVID-19 symptoms.

The top five health tech companies in Spain are instrumental to the world of healthcare today. While many people have restricted access to needed medical attention, these new technologies can change that.

– Grace Aprahamian
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Spain
While COVID-19 is a terrible disease on a physical level, the pandemic has also posed a challenge to mental health. Moreover, the existence of the disease and political measures such as lockdowns have impacted mental health in Spain.

Current Mental Health Scenario in Spain

Before the outbreak of the pandemic, the incidence of cases of mental stress experienced a decrease. Thus, in 2011, Spain had a 22.1% prevalence of cases while the figure dropped to 19.1% in the year 2017. However, by the end of 2019, COVID-19 began to monopolize the news until it became a harsh global reality.

Initially, Spain had over 9,000 coronavirus new cases on March 31, 2020, and the country’s infection numbers rose from that time. However, the fear of the unknown and the danger of the rapid increase in cases shook the foundations of modern Spanish society. The danger was real, and the average citizens perceived their own vulnerability.

Thereby, while the number of new infections grew, the population began to feel the psychological consequences. With the approval of the state of alarm and subsequent lockdown on March 14, 2020, economic uncertainty and isolation began to harass Spanish families. A study indicated that this led to an increase in anxiety, post-traumatic stress and symptoms of depression between the months of March and April 2020.

With this, the consumption of psychotropic drugs also increased in accordance with this bleak context. During the lockdown, the consumption of anxiolytics rose 15% in a country. Even before the lockdowns, Spain was among the countries in the European Union that consumed the most anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics, with only Portugal exceeding it.

In order to avoid the aggravation of mental disorders, primary care is essential. For this, psychologists are necessary for patients who begin to feel symptoms pertaining to poor mental health.

An Unequal Impact

Within this general panorama, one should note that the incidence of depressive or anxious symptoms has been uneven. These symptoms have been more prevalent among lower classes as they have had greater economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, The Center for Sociological Research (CIS) stated this inequality in a recent report indicating that the percentage of lower-class people who have felt down, depressed or hopeless during the pandemic was almost double at 32.7% compared to 17.1% among those with a higher socioeconomic status. Also noteworthy is the prescription for psychotropic drugs; only 3.6% of upper-class people obtained psychotropic drug prescriptions in comparison with 9.8% of lower-class individuals.

Although Spain has a good public health system and a high life expectancy at 83 years in 2018, one of the highest in the world, psychological public care has some deficiencies. As a result, several people cannot access a psychologist.

This makes going to the psychologist a privileged reality. In quantitative terms, if compared with neighboring countries, the Spanish Ombudsman Office reported that while the ratio of psychologists in the Public System per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe is 18, in Spain, this figure drops to six psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants.

The Need for Political Action

Therefore, understanding the mental context and the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented regarding health and the economy, the country must adapt to the scenario and avoid further challenges for mental health in Spain. Given that the Spanish constitution establishes that health is a universal and free right, Spain must prevent mental health from becoming a privilege of a few.

The first “intrusion” of the matter into the political scene was the intervention of deputy Iñigo Errejón, of the Unidas Podemos party, who highlighted the problem in a vehement speech to Parliament. After a social and political upheaval on social media, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has promised to update the national strategy for psychological and psychiatric care of the National Health System in order to guarantee rapid and universal treatment for citizens.

The Prime Minister has admitted in Parliament that the matter is a problem of the first order. In order to provide an effective and rapid solution to this mental health crisis, the update of the Mental Health Strategy has received an endowment of 2.5 million euros. The prevention of mental disorders that include the early detection of potential suicidal behaviors is now on the table in current Spanish politics.

Will Spain’s measures be sufficient in reducing the levels of mental disorders in the Spanish population? Only time will tell. At the moment, Spain’s authorities are working on the issue.

Guillermo Remón
Photo: Flickr

Spanish HealthcareIn its 2020 Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum listed Spain as the country with the best healthcare system in the world. This is nothing new as Spain has been applauded for its efforts in improving national healthcare policies for years. The Global Competitiveness Report determined Spain’s rankings through analysis of the socio-economic situation of the country in comparison to other nations. The Spanish healthcare system earned a perfect score in the health pillar of the report and ranked 23rd overall with the rest of the 12 pillars included. The world is curious as to how Spain has achieved the best healthcare system globally and how it continues to maintain it.

Universal Health Insurance in Spain

The Spanish healthcare system provides both private and public healthcare options. Most Spanish citizens (90%) use the provided, universal public healthcare called the National Health System. The system is run by the Spanish Ministry of Health, which develops policy and manages the national health budget. Healthcare is free to anyone living and working in Spain. This also includes agreements with other countries, which allow Spanish citizens access to free emergency medical attention when visiting particular countries. The cost of health insurance is paid through social security payments made by employees and self-employed workers. This means dependents and spouses receive the same health insurance. Those who are not covered under these regulations can look to private insurance, which is also exceptional in the country.

Private Insurance

The private healthcare system works with the public system and offers combinations of public and private coverage to certain clients. Those not covered utilize private insurance. Likewise, Spanish citizens use private insurance to get access to more treatment resources at a faster rate. The average cost of private healthcare in Spain comes to about €50-200 per month. Less than 20% of Spanish citizens utilize private healthcare as most use a hybrid of private and public healthcare.

Healthcare Costs

Important to note in the Spanish healthcare system is cost. While the cost of Spanish healthcare comes from social security payments of citizens, it is a relatively low amount when compared with the national GDP percentage that goes into healthcare costs for the country and its citizens. The reason the Spanish healthcare system is successful is because of the cohesive and effective relationships between public service officials and private company operators. Without these successful relations, Spain would not be able to excel in its healthcare practices.

With the Spanish healthcare system, questions arise about the effectiveness of public healthcare. Even though most public healthcare is free of charge, in terms of quality and care, the private healthcare system is not superior to the public healthcare system. Spain’s best medical graduates practice in the public healthcare sphere. Even undocumented immigrants can access public healthcare treatment if they enter an emergency room.

Spain has made great strides in the world of public healthcare. Thousands of people are able to get healthcare without paying a significant amount of money in the process. The Spanish healthcare system acts as a guide to other nations so that everyone can have access to quality healthcare.

Grace Aprahamian
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Healthcare Services in Spain
The foundations of the Spanish National Health System (SNS) are free access, equity of financing and funding from taxes. This allows the public sector to provide the most coverage. Oftentimes, this coverage is free of charge. Maternal healthcare services receive high regard in both public and private settings. However, this system faces many issues as well.

Healthcare is available to all Spanish residents for free. Social security payments guarantee almost everyone access to free healthcare. Moreover, some only need to pay a small percentage of fees. Furthermore, only non-residents with health insurance in other countries are not eligible for public healthcare in Spain.

Pros and Cons of Healthcare in Spain

The Spanish healthcare system generally offers high-quality services. There is a network of hospitals and medical centers with well-trained staff members. Additionally, the healthcare system also covers the direct family of a beneficiary. This includes dependents that are under 26 years of age and their siblings.

However, the waiting times for surgeries and treatment from specialist doctors can be extremely long. This is one of the main setbacks of public healthcare. Also, public healthcare services do not allow patients to choose their doctor or specialist. This is very troublesome for some people who wish to have a specific doctor.

Costs for Expecting Mothers

Mothers most often choose hospitals to have childbirth. However, the number of home births has been slowly increasing across Europe. In addition, the state health system does not cover home births in Spain. Moreover, less than 1% of Spanish midwives were registered to oversee home births legally in 2015.

Residents of Spain who use state healthcare can give birth for free. Yet, there may be additional costs with private insurance depending on the insurance plan. Thus, this option makes it easier to find a plan to fully cover the cost of childbirth. The cost of giving birth in Spain is about $1,950 without insurance. This is one of the lowest costs in the world.

Women must hold a private insurance policy for 6-12 months in order to have maternity costs covered. As such, the European Health Insurance Card does not include maternity care.

Maternity Leave

There is also a complicated process in receiving maternity leave. In order to have a standard maternity leave of 16 weeks, mothers must have been paying contributions for a set period of time depending on their age. Mothers are eligible for 18 weeks of maternity leave if they have twins and 20 weeks for triplets. Additionally, maternity leave can receive an extension to 18 weeks if the child has special needs or if the mother is a single parent.

Spain’s Social Security System (Seguridad Social) pays for maternal healthcare services. Mothers must receive paid contributions for at least 180 days within the last seven years to qualify.

The Spanish maternal healthcare system helps many people living in poverty. This system provides a way for people to receive care regardless of their socioeconomic status or salary. Furthermore, it provides a way for residents to choose between public and private options. These options gear towards those who want personalized treatments with a specific doctor.

Expecting mothers benefit from these affordable and accessible maternal healthcare services. Although aspects of the process are difficult and intricate, this service provides a way for Spanish women to give birth easily. This public healthcare system has made Spain a highly rated country for quality care and service.

– Miranda Kargol
Photo: Flickr

Spain’s Foreign Aid
Spain is a great example of a country with a diverse and organized foreign aid plan. The European nation provides aid in many different sectors to a diverse set of recipients and its population places a high value on international support. Spain’s foreign aid expenditure was a total of $2.9 billion USD in 2019, making it the 13th-largest provider of foreign aid in the world. While Spain’s foreign aid allocations fluctuate due to economic trends and fortune, the nation displays a strong commitment to development across the world. 

Spain’s Aid Strategy

Spain’s foreign aid primarily goes towards Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America as a whole, but there are some exceptions. Some of the main countries Spain gives aid to have a long history or a strong relationship with the country. The top 10 nations that receive aid from Spain are:

  • Venezuela
  • Colombia
  • Turkey
  • El Salvador
  • Syria
  • Morocco
  • Guatemala
  • The West Bank and Gaza Strip
  • Bolivia
  • Ukraine
Of these nations, some were former colonies of Spain whereas some are very close to Spain. For example, Morocco is a mere 8 miles from Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. This could be a primary reason why these nations are among the top receivers of Spanish foreign aid. Still, aid to these top 10 recipients only accounts for a quarter of Spanish foreign aid, showing how balanced and wide-reaching the nation’s aid planning is.

Spain’s foreign aid is diverse and targets many different sectors for development. The primary sector Spain invests in is governance and security, followed by education, industry and trade, humanitarian aid and health care. This makes up about half of the aid that Spain sends out, with the rest unspecified or in smaller sums going to sectors like water and sanitation, infrastructure and debt relief. Spain has recently made crucial contributions in these sectors to donor countries. For example, Spain sent €2 million in aid to Venezuela during its economic crisis, which Spain’s foreign aid agencies spent getting food and medical supplies to the most impoverished.

Aid in the Past Decade

Unfortunately, Spain’s commitments to foreign aid have dropped in recent years, mainly due to economic considerations. The economic crisis of 2008 hit Spain hard, and the country’s foreign aid budget mirrors its economic troubles. Spain currently contributes 0.21% of its GNI (Gross National Income) to foreign aid. This is down from a high of nearly 0.5% in 2009 when the effects of the crisis first hit. While foreign aid commitments suffered in the past decade, Spain has a strong plan to revamp its foreign aid budget in the coming years.

Still, in recent years, Spain has put its foreign aid to good use. The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation’s Humanitarian Action Office identified five current crisis areas that Spain’s current foreign policy plan for 2018 to 2021 emphasized. These are the Syrian regional crisis, the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Palestinian Territories, the Sahrawi Refugee Camps and Latin America and the Caribbean. Spain also participated in various emergency responses to natural disastersThese include the 2018 earthquakes in Indonesia, the 2018 Fuego volcano eruption in India and Cyclone Idai in Mozambique in 2019. The aid Spain provided included on-the-ground disaster response support and the deployment of a team of medical professionals from its health care system in response to the cyclone.

Public opinion towards foreign aid in Spain remains remarkably strong despite the recent downturn in the foreign aid budget. According to a 2018 Eurobarometer survey, Spaniards attached the greatest importance to international aid of any European nationality. It also ranked highest in Europe regarding citizens’ belief that their government should give more emphasis to international aid

Looking to the Future

The future of Spain’s foreign aid is bright and signifies a return to the country’s previous strong commitments to foreign aid. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez supports a target of 0.5% GNI contribution to foreign aid and included it as a part of his governing coalition’s agreement.

Spain has been displaying a commitment to a new future of foreign aid recently, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. The country’s foreign development agencies released the Spanish Cooperation Joint Strategy to fight COVID-19, which included an extra $2 billion budget for foreign aid in 2020 and 2021. It also announced that it will prioritize global health and epidemic prevention in its development cooperation policy.

Since 2020, Spain has pledged to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to multilateral institutions such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Green Climate Fund, the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals Fund and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. These contributions, its balanced aid policies and the populace’s enthusiasm for foreign aid indicate that Spain will continue to be a global leader in thiarea. 

– Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in SpainSpain is considered to be a developed country, however, some people in Spain still do not have access to adequate food and nutritional needs. In numbers, 26.1% of people were reported as being at risk of poverty in January 2020. The number can be linked to the direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past 20 years, Spain has shown remarkable resilience as a country, by weathering the 2008 recession and economic difficulties. Hunger in Spain is an issue that has been exacerbated by the onset of COVID-19 but initiatives are helping to address the problem.

3 Initiatives Addressing Hunger in Spain

  1. Minimum Vital Income. In the second quarter of 2020, Spain’s unemployment rate rose to 15.33%. Due to COVID-19, many people in Spain lost their jobs. A direct result of reduced employment in Spain has been a rise in food insecurity, which means that more people are struggling to put food on the table. To combat these difficult conditions, Spain’s government is proposing the introduction of ingreso mínimo vital (minimum vital income). This long-considered program has been kickstarted by need due to COVID-19. According to Spanish records shared with the EU, requests for government assistance due to COVID-19 reached seven million people. A national minimum income was introduced to provide people living in poverty with monthly assistance payments, allowing them access to food and other vital resources, much like the function of unemployment benefits in the United States. The money will provide financial aid to 2.5 million people.

  2. Colas del Hambre (Hunger Queues). In many areas across Spain, like Madrid’s suburb of Cuzco, lines of up to 700 people form around the blocks every day in order to receive food aid from food banks. This has become the daily reality for many people during the lockdown as people struggle to get enough food to eat. These food banks are widely distributed throughout the country, allowing people from many different areas and backgrounds access to assistance. Alba Díez works for the Neighbourhood Association of Aluche (NAA) in Madrid and reported that the organization had needed to quadruple the number of food packages it delivers to those in need in the space of just one month due to the pandemic.

  3. Solidarity Fridge. Another solution to the problem of hunger in Spain is the Solidarity Fridge. It both cuts down on food waste as well as helps people experiencing food insecurity to get enough food. The Basque town of Galdakao spearheaded the project, creating a communal refrigerator. Food can be either deposited or taken from the fridge, allowing those who would otherwise scavenge through trashcans for food, to eat perfectly good food that would otherwise be thrown away by restaurants, other people or grocery stores. There are rules and food safety protocols that must be followed and the fridge is regularly cleaned and maintained by the city. The program is a success and has helped many people during tough times.

These initiatives aim to alleviate hunger in Spain and help people experiencing food insecurity that has been exacerbated by COVID-19.

– Noelle Nelson
Photo: Flickr

Updates on SDG Goal 8 in Spain
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 objectives that the United Nations created to measure a country’s progress in the journey towards sustainability. The focus of SDG Goal 8 is economic growth and quality jobs. By creating decent jobs, a country can significantly improve the living standards of its citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the positive progression of this goal for many countries. Meanwhile, the countries that were falling behind in economic growth before COVID-19 hit are even farther from their objectives now. This article will focus on providing updates on SDG goal 8 in Spain.

6 Indicators of How a Country has Progressed Toward SDG Goal 8

These are the six indicators of a country’s progress toward SDG Goal 8:

  1. Adjusted GDP Growth
  2. Victims of modern slavery
  3. Adults with a bank account
  4. Work-related accidents associated with imports
  5. Employment-to-population ratio
  6. Youth not in employment, education or training”

SDG Goal 8 in Spain

Currently, Spain has achieved the SDG for adjusted GDP growth, victims of modern slavery, adults with a bank account and employment-to-population ratio. “Significant challenges” remain in the work-related accidents category, but Spain is currently on track to reach the SDG. “Major challenges” remain for the youth in employments or education indicator. Though Spain has made significant progress towards a sustainable economy, it continues to face these challenges. The Mediterranean country has specifically struggled to create opportunities for its youth. With about one in five people between the ages of 15-29 unemployed and not in any type of education or training, Spain still has some ways to go before it can achieve economic sustainability. However, the country is on track to achieving the SDG.

The Reasons Spanish Youth Struggle to Find Employment

The two largest contributors to the lack of opportunities for young people are overqualification and a high dropout rate (relative to other E.U. countries). In 2010, the school dropout rate in Spain was 31.6%. For comparison, the rate for both Finland and Germany was about 12%. Meanwhile, young people who have obtained a formal education tend to lack an understanding of how to find a job and market themselves. Unfortunately, Spain’s methods of preparing young people to enter the labor force do not appear to be as effective as some of its surrounding European countries.

Plan of Action

Spain’s labor ministry has developed a plan of action to combat youth unemployment. By 2021, Spain hopes to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Develop a new economic model with an emphasis on productivity and workplace dignity
  2. Support public employment services in offering individualized assistance to those seeking work
  3. Create more skill-building opportunities
  4. Assist young people in becoming more self-sufficient employment seekers
  5. Fight gender biases and the gender wage gap through equal opportunity training
  6. Encourage young people not to give up on seeking employment
  7. Pay special attention to more at-risk groups such as migrants and school dropouts

Youth Business Spain

Some organizations are on the ground working to create employment opportunities for Spanish youth. One of those organizations is Youth Business Spain, a branch of Youth Business International (YBI). YBI helps young people begin or further their careers. The organization does this by providing training, mentorship and financial support to young entrepreneurs. Through this program, young Spanish entrepreneurs have received over 28,400 hours of mentorship dedicated to improving skills in business management. From 2013 to 2017, over 1,000 people benefitted from Youth Business Spain. The program has a multitude of inspiring success stories, but it hopes to reach out to even more young entrepreneurs in the future.

Looking Ahead

While significant challenges remain, the country is on track to achieve SDG Goal 8 in Spain. After the Spanish financial crisis of 2008, Spain’s economy was struggling to stay afloat. However, the Spanish government and many non-governmental organizations have gradually improved economic opportunities for young people in the country. Though COVID-19 has caused a bit of a setback in most countries, Spain continues to work on improving employment situations for Spanish youth.

– Jillian Reese
Photo: Flickr

Latin American Poverty in Spain
The late 90’s and early 2000s saw an influx of Latin Americans immigrating to Spain. The reasons for this immigration are varied and the phenomenon is undeniable. From 1990 to 2005, the population of immigrants in Spain increased from 58,000 people to 569,000 people. The most popular reasons for this wave of immigration include global, economic crises and dangerous dictatorships. Notably, these waves of migration had significant impacts on Spanish culture. Latin American poverty in Spain came about due to a multitude of factors, including economic collapse and political instability. Understanding the effects of immigration can help to better understand the overall effect of migration on global poverty.

Top 3 Reasons Latin Americans Emigrated

  1. Economic Crashes. The crashing of the Latin American economy played a major role in the immigration of Latin Americans to Spain. Countries hit especially hard include Argentina, Brazil and Peru. There were plans to promote the security of the economy at the macroeconomic level, including being more open to trade and interaction with other countries. Also, these plans involved having pro-market policies. There was a belief that these policies would lead to the growth of Latin American economies, though the opposite was the case. As a result of these policies, there was a growth in hyperinflation in the late 80’s, leading to a general crisis across the entire region. Though the economy recovered in the early 90’s, the latter half of the decade proved to be destructive when there was an abrupt decrease in internal, capital flows to the region. These issues continued into the early 2000s. These economic crises corresponded with levels of mass emigration to other countries, most notably Spain and the U.S.
  2. Political Instability. There were several dictatorships in the 20th century that contributed to the economic devastation and the lower quality of life in Latin American countries. This, in turn, also contributed to Latin American poverty. Numerous dictatorships affected this balance. Countries such as Ecuador, Guatemala, Chile, Honduras, Uruguay, and many others felt these effects. Dictators completely altered the way of living in the region. Though there were many writers and artists discussing the effects of the dictatorships (which are still felt in these countries today), the effects ultimately proved too much for some citizens. Shortly after the end of these dictatorships, many people immigrated to other countries. Statistically, the most populous countries for migration were the U.S. and Spain.
  3. Terrible Quality of Life. The decline in Latin Americans’ quality of life was due to a combination of political instability and economic devastation. According to Venezuelan immigrant Rosa (name changed for privacy reasons), her move to Spain from Venezuela was a result of a combination of the two issues. Migrants chose to pursue better economic and political opportunities elsewhere.

Top 3 Things to Know About Latin American Poverty in Spain

  1. Primary Groups of Immigration. Three main groups of immigrants live in Spain — Argentinians, Ecuadorians and Colombians. These groups were the most impacted by the financial crises and dictatorships in the Latin American region. Researchers noticed that these countries felt the most impact by these issues and had the highest levels of emigration. All Latin American immigrants were legally welcomed into Spain through the passage of various forms of legislation intended to help boost the Spanish economy.
  2. Assimilation into Spanish life. Immigrant assimilation into Spanish life has taken on different forms for these migrants. For example, Rosa first migrated to Spain three years ago because of the dictatorship of Nicólas Maduro. Because of the dictatorship, she could not find or hold a steady job and sought better political and economic opportunities in Spain. She described her assimilation as “easier” because she is half-Spanish. One area of immediate struggle for Rosa is the ability to communicate with Spaniards. There are different vocabulary words to represent the same idea and Sandra had to learn the appropriate words to communicate with others. Further, it is culturally appropriate for people to rest in the middle of the day — which was not typical for Rosa.

    Though Rosa was able to transition relatively smoothly, other immigrants fare differently. Ecuadorian immigrants in particular typically reside in one district of the city of Seville. According to previous census records, these immigrants live in urban neighborhoods and make the least amount of money, through low-level jobs. Immigrants have also been shown to contribute the most towards higher crime rates in Spain. Psychologists attribute this to difficulties with assimilation due to the poorer neighborhoods, schools and jobs.

  3. Women & Children. Women and children are disproportionately affected by immigration effects. In particular, children attend worse schools and are more likely to commit crimes. For example, the rates of crime for Ecuadorian immigrants in Spain has continued to increase throughout the years. This, in turn, contributes to the overall levels of Latin American poverty in Spain. Because these immigrants have been living in mostly urban neighborhoods and have been working the lowest-level jobs, they are viewed as more likely to commit crimes such as robbery and petty larceny.

Ending Latin American Poverty in Spain

Latin American immigration is a cultural phenomenon, studied and investigated throughout the entire 21st century. Argentines, Colombians and Brazilians were the primary groups that experienced the highest levels of immigration and the highest effects of immigration. Understanding the dynamics between immigrants and native citizens can inform better responses to Latin American poverty in Spain.

Alondra Belford
Photo: Flickr

tourism and COVID-19COVID-19 has caused major disruptions for travel on a global scale. The tourism industry has already experienced a loss of over $300 billion in the first five months of 2020, and that number is projected to increase to as much as $1.2 trillion due to the pandemic. Additionally, 100 to 120 million jobs associated with tourism are at risk. Tourism and COVID-19 have struggled to co-exist amidst the turmoil of 2020, especially in three major tourist countries. However, organizations are working to protect the future of the travel industry.

Global Tourism and COVID-19

Tourism is considered the third-largest export sector. It is an essential component of the global economy, comprising 10.4% of total economic activity in 2018. Some countries rely on tourism for 20% or more of their total GDP. Many countries rely on capital from tourists, ranging from small, low-income island countries to larger, high-income countries. However, according to a U.N. policy brief, there will be an estimated 58-78% decrease in tourists in 2020 compared to 2019. Three countries that have been especially affected by COVID-19 and tourism are Spain, Thailand and Mexico.

  1. Spain: Spain experienced the second-largest overall economic loss in tourism due to the pandemic, behind the United States. The country lost $9.7 million in revenue due to travel restrictions and decreased tourism. Because Spain is a high-income country and has various other contributors to its economy, it is expected to recover with greater resilience than similarly impacted, lower-income countries.
  2. Mexico: In 2018, Mexico gained a total of 7.15% of its GDP from tourism. However, Mexico’s income from tourism in April 2020 was a mere 6.3%. Additionally, the tourism sector accounts for approximately 11 million jobs in Mexico alone, many of which are now at risk.
  3. Thailand: Thailand has lost nearly $7.8 million due to travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic. The country has taken these limitations seriously in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, this action has come at the cost of earning a ranking as one of the countries hit hardest by economic losses associated with tourism. The tourism sector is responsible for about 10% of the country’s total GDP.

Government Response to Tourism and COVID-19

Although COVID-19 has introduced an unprecedented economic strain on a global scale, governments are working to help countries recover. Spain released an aid package allocating €400 million to the transport and tourism sectors, €14 million to boost the local economy and €3.8 million for public health. Mexico’s government is distributing 2 million small loans of 25 thousand pesos (about $1000) to small businesses. Lastly, Thailand has approved three tourism packages to assist the local economy and small businesses.

NGO Policy Response to Tourism and COVID-19

With government and NGO action, experts predict that the travel sector will return to 2019 economic levels by around 2023. Many organizations are stepping in with policy solutions, providing hope for the industry’s revival. The U.N. World Tourism Organization released the COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package, highlighting three main policy areas: “Managing the crisis and mitigating the impact,” “providing stimulus and accelerating recovery” and “preparing for tomorrow.” Similarly, the International Labour Organization released a policy framework with four main pillars to protect workers, stimulate the economy, introduce employment retention strategies and encourage solutions-based social dialogue.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development provides “Travel in the New Normal,” a series of six policy areas. These include helping businesses to implement “touchless” solutions, sanitation supplies, health screenings and other protective measures to prevent COVID-19. The OECD states that domestic travel will be vital for the recovery of tourist nations, contributing to 75% of the tourism economy in OECD member countries.

These efforts, along with other policy strategies, are vital to the recovery of the tourism industry. They will be particularly important for small- and medium-sized enterprises, industry-employed women and the working class as a whole. These policies will also further U.N. Sustainable Development Goals like No Poverty, Reduced Inequality, Partnership, Sustainable Cities & Communities and Decent Work & Economic Growth.

The tourism sector has suffered major losses in response to COVID-19, with a significant amount of revenue and jobs lost or at severe risk. Countries of all regions and income levels have been affected by the pandemic, including Spain, Mexico and Thailand. However, these setbacks provide unique opportunities to both transform the tourism industry and promote the Sustainable Development Goals.

– Sydney Bazilian
Photo: Flickr

poverty eradication in Spain
While Spain is officially classified as a high-income country, it is not exempt from unceasingly high rates of poverty. Philip Alston, a U.N. expert, recently commented that poverty rates in Spain are “appallingly high” and among the highest in all of Europe. However, efforts to achieve eventual poverty eradication in Spain are underway.

Context

In 2018, over 26% of people in Spain were at high risk of poverty or social exclusion. Moreover, poverty particularly affected children (minors under the age of 18) — with nearly 33% of them either currently living in poverty, or at-risk. A contributing factor in the lingering poverty within these communities is the perpetuation of social immobility among citizens. According to Forbes, Spanish citizens born into families of wealth earn 40% more than people who are born into low-income households. The opportunities these people have to rise out of poverty on their own are nearly non-existent.

The Spanish government and nonprofit organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the issue of high poverty rates within the country. The government, along with other organizations are employing strategic innovations and other strategies every day to address poverty eradication in Spain. 

Government Innovations & Strategies

In March 2019, the National Strategy to Prevent and Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion passed as a new poverty-reduction movement. With its effective timeline lasting through 2023, the strategy includes four key components: (1) the reduction of current poverty, (2) raising social investment in education and employment, (3) increased social protections for at-risk citizens and (4) improving the effectiveness of public policies surrounding poverty eradication in Spain. This movement serves as an important step for the country’s government because it creates a space to address poverty eradication in Spain on a federal level — catering to the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable.

Spain has recently made vast improvements to its minimum income scheme. With the goal of bringing 1.6 million people out of poverty, the new plan will ensure that families have an income between $514 and $1,130 per month, depending on their eligibility. The social program will take into account the number of children per household, single-parent households, annual income and finally, assets. In the words of Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias, this poverty reduction strategy has birthed “a new social right in Spain” and looks to dissolve deeply ingrained social inequalities among its people.

Nonprofit Initiatives

The Spanish government is not the only body taking action to alleviate poverty. Organizations such as SOS Children’s Villages are actively working on lifting communities out of poverty. While the organization recognizes that Spain is actively working to address national poverty at large, it believes there is more to do in supporting individual families. Spain has the third highest childhood poverty rate in all of Europe and SOS Children’s Villages primarily targets these vulnerable and at-risk children through their many day centers and homeless villages. In hopes of creating more safe and secure Spanish households, it also focuses on psychological counseling for families and works to aid unemployed citizens in finding work. With ongoing humanitarian work in eight locations within mainland Spain and the Canary Islands, SOS Children’s Villages is an example of an organization that is actively working towards poverty eradication in Spain.

Implications

On both the public (federal) and private levels, Spain is developing new innovations and strategies to address its crippling poverty rates. The government’s plans to improve social programs and safety nets while ensuring income guarantees will potentially affect millions of people in struggling Spanish communities. Supplemented with the aid of nonprofit organizations such as SOS Children’s Villages, the goals of these programs hold promises of a better, more secure future for millions of people.

Karli Stone
Photo: Flickr