• 07 December 2017


    Posteado en : En primera persona

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    EUROsociAL+, looking for answers

    If one thing characterises EUROsociAL+, it is seeking answers to the questions posed by Latin America

    “When we had the answers, they changed the questions”, said Pelayo Castro referring to a graffito discovered by the Ecuadorian poet Jorge Enrique Adoum and made universal by the Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti. This catch-phrase, quoted by the European Union Ambassador in Costa Rica at the opening of the EUROsociAL+ meeting in San José, laid the foundation for the three days of discussions and exchanges in the capital of Costa Rica.


    Because, if one thing characterises EUROsociAL+, it is seeking answers to the questions raised by Latin America. The answers are to be found in Europe and in Latin America, and in Costa Rica they were transformed into reality with significant commitments to fighting gender violence, social dialogue and regional development.


    Also, in this third stage of the Latin American social cohesion programme, we would like to be part of the answers. This means being more strategic, once again placing social issues on the European-Latin American cooperation agenda and contributing to ensuring that countries meet the Sustainable Development Goals. This is why we demanded even more strongly that actions be implemented to support public policies that have a real effect on reducing the inequality gap in the region.


    The initial meeting was not only inspiring because of the discussions, it also presaged an unforgettable cultural moment that occurred during the first annual meeting of the third stage of EUROsociAL. Creativity laboratories gave a voice to the different realities existing in the Latin American countries through children and young people at risk of exclusion, the struggle of the LGBT community, and the situation of those who are in detention, who, through poetry, painting and photography expressed their wish to be part of a society that offers them the same rights and the same opportunities as anyone else.


    It was a meeting filled with symbols, from the word Freedom, which was the name given to the Metropolitan Park where the meeting began, to the former prison known as “La Peni”, which has now become the Children’s Museum and which we visited on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day. The best way, therefore, to end these lines is the prologue written by Kennly Garza, subdirector of the Vilma Curling Comprehensive Care Centre, for the book of poems written by the inmates of this prison, entitled Luna compartida” (Shared Moon). In the prologue, entitled “Alquimistas de significados” (Alchemists of meaning), Kennly calls our attention to some of these allegories: A women’s prison is an uncomfortable, antagonistic place; the unsuspected arrival of cherubim brings on a smile. At the back, the whispers of five hundred writers disturb our conscience when we know we are part of these stories. A scene of losses and grievances, it is also an island of warrior women whose stories deserve to be told before the River Cañas claims its own. Until then, here is the tribute of their words, transparent and direct, warning that while there are women in prison writing about inequality, talking about freedom will never be easy or commonplace, it is an urgent debt that only applause does not endorse”.


    Enrique Martínez is the communications manager for the EUROsociAL+ programme

  • 13 October 2017


    Posteado en : Reportage

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    Hospital medical records: much more than a storage space

    Representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Institute of Social Security and the Institute for Access to Public Information travelled to Madrid with the support of EUROsociAL+ to find out more in situ about the Spanish experience with managing hospital medical records

    When Margarita went to her Social Security hospital in El Salvador for her regular type 2 diabetes check-up, her medical record had disappeared. After hours of fruitless searching, she went in to see her doctor with a temporary (empty) file so that he could prescribe the appropriate medicines. Due to the lack of medical information, the doctor told her that he could not prescribe her glimepiride, one of the key drugs for treating her diabetes, until he had some accurate analyses of her medical condition. Margarita had to wait almost a month to get the result of the new clinical analyses, without receiving proper medication in the meantime. After nearly three months, the file was finally found, surprisingly, among the records of those who had died.


    Managing medical records properly is essential for improving the treatment of patients and the exercise of their rights, as well as the effective and efficient functioning of the healthcare system. However, this is a daunting task that requires confronting huge challenges, such as a lack of storage space or human and financial resources. At the same time, the patients’ personal details must be properly protected and the complex process of transferring the files from a paper format to an electronic one must be carried out in stages.


    Well aware of the pressing need to tackle this issue in El Salvador, the Institute for Access to Public Information (IAIP), the Ministry of Health (MINSAL) and the Salvadoran Institute of Social Security (ISSS) have joined forces with the aim of building the foundations for a new era in the management of medical records in this Central American country’s public healthcare sector.


    The EUROsociAL+ Programme, funded by the European Commission and managed by the FIIAPP, is helping El Salvador with this process. As a first step, between 25 and 28 September, representatives of the three Salvadoran institutions visited Madrid to find out about the progress made and the challenges faced by Spain in this area. For a week, they were able to exchange experiences and lessons learned with the Ministry of Health, Equality and Social Services, the Castilla-La Mancha Health Service (SESCAM), the Community of Madrid’s Hospital Clí­nico San Carlos, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports General Sub-Directorate of State Archives and the Spanish Data Protection Agency. The visit included a tour of the Hospital Clí­nico San Carlos archives and the Central Archives of the State Administration in Alcalá in addition to a presentation of the lessons learned from the Tunisian electronic file project headed by the FIIAPP and funded by the European Union.


    This activity was the first step in promoting inter-institutional dialogue in El Salvador, advancing toward creating operating instructions and new regulations, and promoting cultural change, which is needed in order to improve the quality of healthcare in this Central American country.


    Borja Díaz Rivillas, Senior Officer of Democratic Governance. EUROsociAL+

  • 15 September 2017


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    El Salvador faces a new era in medical record management

    Alicia Miranda Duke, head of studies and research at the Salvadoran Institute for Access to Public Information, describes the challenges to protecting patients’ healthcare information. The European Union programme EUROsociAL+ is contributing to this process by promoting the exchange of experiences between Latin American and European countries

    In El Salvador, few topics go as unnoticed in public and media agendas as the management of medical records. The irony is that these documents contain sensitive personal information on the health of thousands of people that should be protected with the highest quality standards. This issue is even more important in the public healthcare sector (Encuesta de Hogares de Propósitos Múltiples (Multi-Purpose Household Survey) 2014, DIGESTYC-MINEC).


    Between January and March 2017, the Institute for Access to Public Information (IAIP) carried out a series of interviews with key staff in the Ministry of Health (MINSAL) and the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS) to gather preliminary information on some aspects of document management and personal data protection. The information will help the IAIP, as the governing body in this area, to issue guidelines regarding these matters. A complex reality was revealed by these first interviews.


    In terms of standardisation, at least six documents were found that contain different criteria for handling medical records. However, there is no standard management process for the entire public sector. For example, filing documents has become a problem that is literally overwhelming the public health system. Although it is not the same at all care centres, there are warehouses in which these documents are stored with no other criterion than their weight in kilos.


    Another finding was that there is little or no knowledge about ARCO rights (Access, Rectification, Cancellation and Opposition to information). On the one hand, there are healthcare operators that do not guarantee full exercise of these rights and, on the other, users who do not demand them. But how to demand a right that is not known by those who must guarantee it?


    In the interviews, challenges in managing medical records appeared one after another. Almost all the interviewees agreed on the need to migrate to single electronic formats. Something that, among other benefits, would permit the interoperability of the information. In other words, having access to the medical history of a patient for an operation from wherever he or she might be. But although there are ample arguments in favour, the possibility of migrating collides with another reality: Implementing this would require a significant financial investment. Preliminary data, provided by both institutions, show that this would be an investment of approximately $40 million. But, even in a favourable scenario, standardising management does not end with migrating to an electronic format. In fact, whatever action is taken to implement it, at least two initial challenges must be faced.


    Firstly, standardising the documentary management and personal data protection of records that are currently kept on paper. In other words, what to do with what there is. Secondly, a commitment by all those involved in managing these documents, apart from the MINSAL operators.


    The IAIP, as the body governing document management and personal data protection, could simply issue guidelines and verify that they are complied with. But is this what interests us? Delimiting our involvement in these two actions would mean denying an extremely complex reality that finds expression in many dimensions. The management of medical records, in this case in the El Salvador public health sector, requires, first of all, an in-depth institutional dialogue that will permit the design of a path toward the necessary changes. To do this, it is also necessary to know how similar processes were developed in other countries in Latin America and the European Union. Otherwise, however well-designed the regulation is technically, it would not be sustainable over time.


    Alicia Miranda Duke is the head of studies and research at the Institute for Access to Public Information (IAIP) in El Salvador

  • 11 November 2016


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Spanish lawyers in international cooperation

    El acceso a la Justicia de los ciudadanos está en la base de las garantías judiciales que tienen la consideración de derechos humanos.

    No country or community can function peacefully if its inhabitants are unable to assert their rights in an established system of justice or defend themselves against accusations brought against them. Access to justice by citizens is based on legal guarantees that take into human rights consideration.


    Nonetheless, in reality we face numerous difficulties in applying them in a practical and effective way. And, regrettably, when this is the case we see the natural consequences – greater levels of social inequality or high rates of violence – which are often attributed to other factors, such as poverty, when in reality poverty is not a cause but rather an effect, and precisely an effect of the fact that, among other factors, many people are excluded from justice.


    The mechanisms for accessing justice should be designed for citizens in general, they should be properly contemplated at the legislative level, and they should also be given the necessary resources to function adequately. Some countries have a more pressing need for cooperation in order to address these needs.


    For those of us working to defend the rights of citizens, it is very difficult to not see the tremendous challenges worldwide facing people with disabilities, displaced people and refugees, minorities, victims of trafficking and exploitation, persons deprived of their liberty, and people living in endemic poverty. We are talking about hundreds of millions of people.


    The General Council of Spanish Lawyers, through its participation in cooperation actions, often focuses on working to ensure that the most vulnerable groups have access to protection of their rights through the justice system under the same conditions as their neighbours.


    We have successfully undertaken numerous projects of this type in some European countries and, above all, in Latin America. We might highlight, for their representativeness, some implemented in collaboration with FIIAPP within the framework of European cooperation programmes such as EUROsociAL.

  • 23 June 2015


    Posteado en : Entrevista

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    Colombia and EUROsociAL, together in the fight against corruption

    Colombia has a solid anti-corruption policy, and the European Union's EUROsociAL programme, led by the FIIAPP, is supporting it in achieving its objectives

    Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signs the decree partially regulating the country’s transparency law (January 2014).

    In 2014, Colombia passed the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information for the purpose of reducing corruption levels in the country. According to public opinion polls, corruption is a major concern of the population. It has nearly the same importance as security, violence and unemployment issues.


    The Colombian Secretary of Transparency, Camilo Enciso, in this video analyses the role of the EUROsociAL programme in implementation of the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information.


    Complete interview with Camilo Enciso here

  • 18 June 2015


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    The cooperation and development fair

    EUROsociAL, the European Commission programme for social cohesion in Latin America, participated in European Development Days in Brussels.

    The year 2015 is key for cooperation. Declared the European Year of Development by the European Union, its mid-point coincided with its flagship event, European Development Days, which brought together people from five continents in Brussels with a significant African presence (an exception to the logical European majority), dozens of public institutions (also with a clear European Union majority), bilateral agencies and international bodies, fewer DNGOs than expected, and a small but media-covered presence by the private sector, with special attention to Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation championing health issues.

    Three auditoriums, 16 laboratories (or small conference rooms), 5 meeting points, 44 stands, 4 press areas and 2 television broadcasting sets, numerous cameras and a good turnout, without reaching the attendance levels of ARCO or FITUR to give a close-at-hand example. In short, a true cooperation fair.

    But beyond the staging, it was possible to learn a great deal from others and to invite them to take an interest in the themes that EUROsociAL proposed in Brussels: Europe and Latin America, their cooperation relationship, social cohesion policies, and the reality of the two regions during the crisis and at the present time. An interesting thematic and geographic “exception” in an agenda more focused on Africa and Asia and on sectors such as migration, health and food safety.

    As far as the rest was concerned, the theme of inequality was very important, and here the FIIAPP also participated along with think tanks like ODI and DIE, and the World Bank; gender equality with the presence of AECID; reproductive rights; the Ebola crisis; food safety with an impressive stand by the FAO (including planters made of rubber tyres made in Guatemala); and the fresh proposals of young international leaders.

    Constant foot traffic (with a look that was more white-collar than NGO) peppered by musical performances, photographic exhibitions, improvised interviews… an event with a paperless spirit in which the technological assistance was lacking (or failed) as the WiFi was not up to the deployment arranged by the organisers, as the participating institutions are called in Brussels.

    This decisive year for development will bring us another three milestones: the third conference on development financing (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13th-16th July); the special summit on sustainable development (New York, 25th-27th September), where the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are to be approved, and the summit on climate change (COP21, Paris, December).

    As for the #EDD2015 tweets, they’re already talking about 2016.

    By Enrique Martínez, EUROsociAL communication and visibility officer