Ministry of Health (Spain)

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Ministry of Health
Ministerio de Sanidad
Logotipo del Ministerio de Sanidad.svg
Ministerio de Sanidad de España (Madrid) 14.jpg
Headquarters of the Ministry of Health
Agency overview
Formed4 November 1936; 84 years ago (1936-11-04) (as Ministry of Health and Social Assistance)
13 January 2020 (as Ministry of Health)
Preceding agency
  • Ministry of Labour, Health and Welfare
JurisdictionSpanish government
HeadquartersCasa Sindical Building
Madrid, Spain
Annual budget 3.5 billion, 2021[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executives
  • Silvia Calzón, Secretary of State
  • Alfredo González, Secretary-General
  • Alberto Herrera, Under-Secretary
WebsiteMinistry of Health (in Spanish)

The Ministry of Health (MISAN) is the department of the Government of Spain responsible for proposing and executing the government policy on health, planning and providing healthcare as well as the exercise of the powers of the General State Administration to assure citizens the right to health protection.[2] The Ministry is headquartered in the Paseo del Prado in Madrid, opposite the Prado Museum.

The healthcare in Spain is provided by the National Health System, a decentralized organization composed by the regional health systems and the National Institute of Health Management, the health agency of the central government that provides health care to the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. According to Eurostat (2017 data), Spain spends 8.9% of GDP on health, approximately $104 billion (86 billion).[3]

According to the Annual Report of the National Health System 2018, the total expenditure of the Spanish health system in 2016 was 101.7 billion euros (72.4 billion corresponding to the public sector and 29.3 billion to the private sector). This represents 2,190 euros per capita and an expenditure of 9.1% of the Spanish GDP.[4] Regarding human resources, the health sector in the 2016-2018 period had 728,482 professionals (613,386 in the NHS) both in the public and private spheres. Of these, 177,731 are medical professionals, 256,333 nursing professionals, and 294,418 are other types of health professionals.[5]

The Ministry is headed by the Minister of Health, who is appointed by the King of Spain at request of the Prime Minister. The Minister is assisted by three main officials, the Secretary of State for Health, the Secretary-General for Digital Health, Information and Innovation of the National Health System and the Under Secretary of Health. The current Health Minister is Carolina Darias.


Early period[edit]

References can be found to the action of Government in public health and welfare in the 19th century. The Royal Decree of 9 November 1832 created a Ministry of Development, which included powers over "the field of health with the infirmaries, water and mineral baths" and "charitable institutions".[6] A further Royal Decree of 10 March 1847, created a Department of Health, one of six that made up what is now the Ministry of the Interior.[7]

First ministry[edit]

Federica Montseny, first minister and first woman to hold the office.

State powers in this area remained with this department until 1933, when the Undersecretariat for Health and Charity was transferred to the Ministry of Labour, which then became known as the Ministry of Labour and Health.[8] However, the first ministry focused on health was created on 4 November 1936, as the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance, with a woman holding a cabinet portfolio for the first time in the history of Spain: Federica Montseny.[9] This ministry was short-lived. When the Prime Minister of the Republic, Juan Negrín, replaced Francisco Largo Caballero, the ministry was abolished and its powers were transferred to the Ministry of Labour (Social Assistance affairs) and to the Ministry of Public Instruction (Health affairs) by a Decree of May 1937.[10] After the Spanish Civil War, the responsibility returned to the Ministry of the Interior until 1977.[citation needed]

Democratic period[edit]

The Health Ministry was created again in the Constituent Legislature in 1977, integrating responsibilities for Health that were hitherto managed by the Ministry of the Interior, and the powers of the Undersecretariat for Social Security.[11]

Royal Decree 1558 of 4 July 1977[12] established the ministry in its current form, including responsibility for Social Security. Staffing consisted of two undersecretariats (one for the domestic governance of the Department and other focused on Health), a Technical General Secretariat and six Directorates-General: Staff, Management and Finance; Social Benefits; Social Services; Healthcare; Pharmaceutical Management and Public Health and Veterinary Health.[13]

For a short period between February and November 1981, Health was once again merged with Labour. Royal Decree 2823/1981, restored it to full ministerial rank but this time without social security which remained within the Labour ministry. With this reform the Ministry acquired competencies over Consumers Affairs (through the National Institute for Consumers Affairs). During the first years of the premiership of Felipe González and the National Health System and the National Transplant Organization were created thanks primarily to the impulse of the minister Ernest Lluch.

With the victory of the People's Party in the general election of 1996, José Manuel Romay Beccaría was appointed Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs, a position he held throughout the 6th Legislature. Under his direction was created in 1997, the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices. In the 7th Legislature Celia Villalobos became minister (2000-2002) and achieved notoriety by her handling mad cow disease. She was succeeded by Ana Pastor Julián (2002-2004). The mad cow crisis precipitated the creation in 2011 of the Spanish Food Safety Agency, named since 2007 as Spanish Food Safety and Nutrition Agency.

At the beginning of the 8th legislature Elena Salgado assumed as Health Minister (2004-2007). With her, in 2004 the National Plan on Drugs, belonged to the Ministry of the Interior, was shifted to the Ministry of Health. Eight months before the end of the legislature, the scientific Bernat Soria assumed the office of Health Minister. In the next legislature Soria was confirmed as Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs, and he was succeeded by Trinidad Jiménez in 2009 following a cabinet reshuffle. Under Jiménez Social Policy was returned to the health portfolio, including the Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (IMSERSO), previously under Education.

Under minister Leire Pajín (October 2010-December 2011), responsibilities on Equality issues were added to her duties, previously under a separate ministry of its own, and also assuming the Institute for Women and the Institute for Youth. At the beginning of the 10th legislature Ana Mato became minister and the Ministry assumed (only functionally) the Charles III Health Institute (which still belonged to the Ministry of Economy). In addition, in January 2014 the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition and the National Institute for Consumer Affairs merged giving rise to the new Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition.[14] On 24 November 2014, Mato resigned after being implicated in the corruption case known as Gürtel. On 3 December 2014, Alfonso Alonso succeeded her.

After the 2016 cabinet reshuffle, Dolors Montserrat was appointed Minister of Health and one of his first measures was to raise the rank of the Director of the National Transplant Organization to Director-General in order to strengthen this institution.[15] Barely 1 year later after the assumption of Montserrat, the Güertel case that provoked the resignation of minister Mato also provoked in June 2018 the fall of the Rajoy government through a motion of no-confidence driven by the Leader of the Opposition Pedro Sánchez. After the success of the motion, Sánchez appointed Carmen Montón as Health Minister and the Ministry transferred the competences over equality to the Ministry of the Presidency. Montón also strengthen the consumers affairs competences by recovering the Directorate-General for Consumers Affairs and regained universal healthcare for undocumented immigrants.[16] She resigned after three months in office after a degree scandal[17] and María Luisa Carcedo succeeded her. Carcedo continued with the program established by Montón on fight against pseudosciences[18] and recovering the Observatory of Women's Health.

A major restructuring occurred in 2020. The Department of Health lost all its competences on consumer affairs and social servicies, that were transferred to the ministries of Consumer Affairs and of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda, respectively. However, in exchange, the department assumed the government policies on drugs. During this time, Carcedo was replaced by Salvador Illa, who had to face the COVID-19 pandemic. It was precisely as a result of this pandemic that in August 2020 the department underwent a major reform in its structure, recovering the position of Secretary of State for Health (which already existed between 1979 and 1981) as second-in-command and creating the General Secretariat for Digital Health, Information and Innovation of the National Health System.[19]


The Ministry of Health is organised in the following superior bodies:[19]

  • The Secretariat of State for Health
    • The Directorate-General for Public Health
    • The Directorate-General for the Common Catalogue of Services of the National Health System and Pharmacy
    • The Directorate-General for Professional Management
    • The Government Delegation for the National Drugs Plan
  • The General Secretariat for Digital Health, Information and Innovation of the National Health System
    • The Directorate-General for Digital Health and Information Systems for the National Health System
  • The Undersecretariat of Health
    • Technical General Secretariat

In addition, the Department has two advisory bodies:[2]

  • The Advisory Council for Health and Social Services, as an advisory and assistance body in the formulation of health policy.
  • The Committee of the professions of the health and social sector.

Ministry agencies[edit]

List of Ministers of Health[edit]

Period Legislative Start End Name Political Party
Reign of
Juan Carlos I
Constituent Legislature (1977 - 1979) 4 July 1977 5 April 1979 Enrique Sánchez de León (1) UCD
I Legislature (1979 - 1982) 5 April 1979 8 September 1980 Juan Rovira Tarazona (1) UCD
8 September 1980 26 February 1981 Alberto Oliart Saussol (1) UCD
26 February 1981 1 December 1981 Jesús Sancho Rof (2) UCD
1 December 1981 2 December 1982 Manuel Núñez Pérez (3) UCD
II Legislature (1982 - 1986) 2 December 1982 25 July 1986 Ernest Lluch Martín (3) PSOE
III Legislature (1986-1989) 25 July 1986 7 December 1989 Julián García Vargas (3) PSOE
IV Legislature (1989-1993) 7 December 1989 12 March 1991 Julián García Vargas (3) PSOE
13 March 1991 14 January 1992 Julián García Valverde (3) PSOE
14 January 1992 13 July 1993 José Antonio Griñán Martínez (3) PSOE
V Legislature (1993-1996) 13 July 1993 4 May 1996 Ángeles Amador Millán (3) PSOE
VI Legislature (1996-2000) 5 July 1996 27 April 2000 José Manuel Romay Beccaría (3) PP
VII Legislature (2000-2004) 27 April 2000 9 July 2002 Celia Villalobos Talero (3) PP
9 July 2002 17 April 2004 Ana María Pastor Julián (3) PP
VIII Legislature (2004-2008) 18 April 2004 6 July 2007 Elena Salgado Méndez (3) PSOE
6 July 2007 7 April 2009 Bernat Soria Escoms (3) PSOE
IX Legislature (2008-2011) 7 April 2009 20 October 2010 Trinidad Jiménez García-Herrera (4) PSOE
20 October 2010 22 December 2011 Leire Pajín Iraola (5) PSOE
X Legislature (2011-2015)
XI Legislature (2016)
22 December 2011 26 November 2014 Ana Mato Adrover (6) PP
Reign of
Felipe VI
(since 2014)
26 November 2014 3 December 2014 Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría Antón (6, interim) PP
3 December 2014 4 November 2016 Alfonso Alonso Aranegui (6) PP
XII Legislature (2016-2019)
XIII Legislature (2019)
4 November 2016 1 June 2018 Dolors Montserrat Montserrat (6) PP
7 June 2018 11 September 2018 Carmen Montón Giménez (7) PSOE
12 September 2018 13 January 2020 María Luisa Carcedo (7) PSOE
XIV Legislature (2019-)
13 January 2020 Incumbent Salvador Illa (8) PSC-PSOE
26 January 2021 Incumbent Carolina Darias (8) PSOE

(1) Ministry of Health and Social Security
(2) Ministry of Work, Health and Social Security
(3) Ministry of Health and Consumers
(4) Ministry of Health and Social Policies
(5) Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality
(6) Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality
(7) Ministry of Health, Consumers Affairs and Social Welfare
(8) Ministry of Health

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2021 State Budget" (PDF). 4 January 2021. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Royal Decree 454/2020, of March 10, which develops the basic organic structure of the Ministry of Health". Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  3. ^ "File:Current healthcare expenditure, 2017 SPS20.png - Statistics Explained". Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Informe Anual del Sistema Nacional de Salud 2018 - Gasto sanitario" (PDF). p. 7.
  5. ^ "Informe Anual del Sistema Nacional de Salud 2018 - Recursos humanos" (PDF). pp. 7–24.
  6. ^ Real decreto de 9 de Noviembre de 1832.- Ministerio de Fomento, dando forma y señalando atribuciones á la Secretaría de Fomento. Colección legislativa de Cárceles Archived 2012-01-18 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ El ministerio de comercio, instrucción y obras públicas, 1847-1851. José Antonio Pérez Juan (ed.)
  8. ^ El Consejo de Ministros de ayer ABC 23 de diciembre de 1933
  9. ^ La Sanidad y la Asistencia Social durante la Guerra Civil. Federica Montseny (ed.), 23 de diciembre de 1933 Archived 2011-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Decreto disponiendo la nueva denominación de los departamentos ministeriales a partir de la fecha de la promulgación de este Decreto" (PDF).
  11. ^ [1]ABC Hemeroteca. Nuevo Gobierno sin grandes sorpresas. 5 July 1977
  12. ^ "Royal Decree 1558/1977, of July 4, by which certain organs of the Central State Administration are restructured". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Royal Decree 1918/1977, of July 29, on the structuring of the Ministry of Health and Social Security". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Royal Decree 19/2014, of 17 January, by which the autonomous bodies of the National Institute of Consumption and the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition are consolidated into a new autonomous body called the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition and its statute". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Royal Decree 485/2017, of May 12, which develops the basic organizational structure of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Spain approves law that returns to free universal health care model". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  17. ^ Jones, Sam (12 September 2018). "Spain's health minister quits over degree scandal". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  18. ^ Güell, Oriol (14 November 2018). "Spain moves to ban pseudo-therapies from universities and health centers". El País. ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Royal Decree 735/2020, of August 5, which establishes the basic organic structure of the Ministry of Health". Retrieved 5 August 2020.

External links[edit]