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The XXXV Health Economics Conference of the Spanish Health Economics Association (XXXV Jornadas AES) will take place in Granada from 16 to 19 June 2015, with the theme "Health, Welfare and Social Cohesion: towards a cross-cutting approach to policy". Health, along with income, education, housing, etc., is a key element in the welfare of individuals and societies. Health care policy may not only lead to improvements in people's health, but can also be effective in strengthening social cohesion if aimed in particular at vulnerable social groups at greatest risk of social exclusion. Similarly, policies in other areas, such as the labour market, child poverty and the housing market, may result in population health gains that could even be larger than those generated by health care policy itself. Hence a cross-cutting strategy is best for leveraging synergies between health care policy and other public policies, most likely leading to a multiplier effect on public's welfare.
In an environment of economic, social and institutional crisis like the current one in Spain, the need for a cross-cutting approach to public policies related to health takes on greater significance. The debate about public policy, in terms of both revenue and spending, requires careful scrutiny to assess the extent to which each policy helps to enhance people's welfare, especially among the most disadvantaged. Achieving improvements in public health by prioritising policies that give the best outcomes per euro spent and a fair distribution of resources is not only a completely essential strategy in the times we live in, but also a legal obligation, as reflected by the "health in all policies" principle in the Spanish Public Health General Act.
The traditional compartmentalisation of public policies that may directly or indirectly affect people's health and welfare has been a serious obstacle to this strategy, which entails that the source and use of funding are accounted by departments (central or regional government) rather than on the basis of the social welfare aspects concerned. This obstacle comes in addition to the resistance from several other sectors that have hampered the implementation of any innovative health policy for decades that could improve social welfare: private interests of political decision makers, professional interests, the interests of lobbyists, an unprofessional management of the health care system strongly influenced by political power, etc. The changes that have taken place at all levels due to the recession may well provide a chance to overcome this obstacle, given the increased public awareness of the opportunity cost of the current status quo and greater receptiveness to any truthful information that demonstrates improper use of resources and puts forward alternatives that promote a more rational use of them, in favour of the general interest.
The XXXV Jornadas AES is intended to be a magnificent means for sharing, discussing and disseminating information about this multisectoral approach, based on rigorous research and proven scientific evidence. It will be a forum for academics from Spain and abroad to share the latest evidence available with politicians, managers, clinicians, providers of health care technologies and services and society at large. This mutual exchange is unquestionably a necessary step in drawing up the roadmap of necessary changes and making the benefits of this cross-cutting approach explicit.
In that vein, the theme of the XXXV Jornadas AES is an invitation to discuss, examine and put forward proposals about some of the issues we would like to move forward during the meeting. Firstly, we expect to shed light on a number of questions, such as how can we take action to achieve the goal of health in all policies and what can we learn from existing experiences? What progress has been made in understanding the social determinants of health and their monitoring? What advances have been made in public health initiatives to reduce social inequalities in health? What role does personal responsibility play within a framework of promotion and fair distribution of health? What role should prevention policies play? Then secondly, it is essential to evaluate the efficiency of the various management models recently introduced to the Spanish National Health System and systematise performance assessment and accountability. Yet it is also necessary to analyse the results of the measures implemented in health centres and other initiatives undertaken to improve efficiency.
In addition, topics traditionally covered at our Jornadas will again be considered with renewed energy this year: What are the latest developments in drug evaluation and health technology?; What innovations can we draw on in the evaluation of management and organization of health services?; What changes are needed in coverage and health system financing ?; Is it appropriate to strengthen or relax regulatory and organizational changes (such as copayment or public-private partnership)?; How to design intelligent policies for prioritization, disinvestment and reinvestment in health?
The Organizing and Scientific Committees are working so the XXXV Health Economics Conference of the Spanish Health Economics Association in Granada will be a great place to advance knowledge of Economics and Health Management, to examine current research before a specialized audience, to discuss, to attempt to provide answers and to make concrete proposals to the above questions and others that arise during the conference. We would like to encourage you to actively participate in this and to attend the conference organized jointly by the Andalusian School of Public Health and the University of Granada this year. They offer a unique location for hosting this conference, not only because of the extensive historical and artistic heritage of the city, but also as a city of cultural exchange which each year attracts thousands of students, researchers and other professionals from a wide range of sectors from other places in Spain and abroad.
Organizing Committee and Scientific Committee