Health services in the Azores

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Health services in the Azores

Given its archipelagic reality, the Azores, as a whole, always had several limitations and constraints of their own at various levels.

This reality, common to all islands but more evident in the smaller ones, impacts areas that are decisive for the development of the region, such as education, commerce, industry, logistics, culture and, of course, healthcare.

Regarding health, in truth, the current situation is no longer as precarious as it was a few years ago, because, both privately and publicly, the Azorean “market” already has a notoriously different offer, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

In fact, in recent years, the health market in the Azores has grown and has leveraged quality and the capacity to respond to requests from local residents. This means that getting sick in the Azores, despite being something always undesirable, is no longer as “worrying” as it was before, because the alternatives in terms of medical care in the region are already substantially different.

Diversification was also an evident reality. See, for example, in the private sector, the number of clinics that initially specialized in only a few health services and that subsequently broadened significantly their range of services.

A paradigmatic example of this phenomenon was the Clinica do Aparelho Locomotor (CAL) which opened its doors in 1992, offering almost exclusively physiatrics and physiotherapy services and which today is a true health care integrated space in various specialties, clinical services and exams and with an incomparably larger clinical staff than the initial one, also having a network of conventions, agreements and protocols with more than two dozen entities.

Still in the private sector, the International Hospital of the Azores (HIA) that will open soon will clearly bring unquestionable added value to the region’s health service given its size, range of services it will provide and all the structural and technological means it has that, together with a “judiciously chosen” clinical staff , will be the “flag” of this cutting edge health unit.

São Sebastião clinic is another example of growth and diversification of health services in the archipelago. Located in Ponta Delgada, this private clinic has more than 30 specialties, thus making a clear contribution to the healthcare panorama of the archipelago.

But not only in the Island of São Miguel the scenario changed that much. On other islands of the archipelago, progress at this level was also felt, regardless of the “needs” that still exist in some of the smaller islands that often force many azoreans to travel to other islands or even to mainland Portugal to obtain healthcare services.

However, with regard to access to health services in the Azores, the future is quite promising due to the continuous improvements that the Regional Government of the Azores has been making in public units and also the sustained growth of the private sector that has brought to the region indisputable added value.