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Miguel Ángel Martínez González, Full Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the University of Navarra, Spain.

Adding up is a win-win situation


Sun, 03 Jan 2016 10:50:00 +0000 Published in News Journal

For the last 18 years I have worked side by side and very comfortably with dozens of professionals of the Navarra Health Service (SNS) in major research. They focus on nutrition and public health. The best known are the project Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN cohort, started in 1999) with more than 22,500 participants; the multicenter essay (11 centers) Prevención con per diem expenses Mediterránea (Predimed), started in 2003 and already completed with more than 7,400 participants; and the multicenter essay (23 centers) Predimed-Plus (started in 2013), currently underway and which will have 6,000 participants, a thousand of them from Navarra.

As Full Professor of Public Health, I am an enthusiastic advocate of a National Health System with universal coverage and financed by taxes. This in no way means that all health care provision (preventive and not only curative) should come from publicly owned entities. From our humble contribution, we have tried to work together to improve public health care in Navarra. I have found professionals in Osasunbidea of extraordinary human and technical quality. We have thus been able to attend to thousands of participants, without distinguishing the respective contributions of professionals from the Navarra Health Service or the University of Navarra.

It is no exaggeration to say that this sum of efforts has contributed to achieve a unique health excellence in preventive medicine of international fame for Navarra. Thousands of Navarrese have received preventive medicine care in a continuous, efficient manner and with the best resources.

The Predimed and Predimed-Plus trials started in Navarra. Our colleagues from other autonomous communities benefited from the pioneering experience of Navarra. They all admire the quality of Navarra's Primary Care and it is more prestigious to be involved in research of first world division.

The SUN and Predimed projects have produced respectively more than 130 (see and more than 170 publications (see Many Osasunbidea healthcare professionals have been able to do their doctoral thesis and direct and lead prestigious research of their own. Considering only 2015, these presentations on nutrition and public health have taken place in distinguished scientific forums in Berlin, Boston (Harvard), New York (Columbia), Venice, Cork, Stockholm (Karolinska), or San Diego, to name but a few. A scientific article fruit of these collaborations in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 is currently issue 1 in terms of reputation and attention raised among everything evaluated in that journal (the best medical journal) according to Altmetric. It is also issue 26th out of nearly 5 million publications evaluated.

Harvard University has recognized the excellence of this research and has established collaborations, with two five-year Harvard-Navarre projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. These alliances are also the result of several stays of researchers from the Navarra team at the Harvard School of Public Health. At the same time, researchers from other countries come to Navarra to learn about our research. Only in 2016 we have planned in our department stays of 8 foreign researchers from Holland (2), Brazil (1), Italy (2), United Kingdom (1) and Australia (2). Navarra is thus becoming more and more known worldwide for its healthcare excellence by joining public+private efforts.

The first beneficiaries are the Osasunbidea users. Doctors who do research are better doctors, are more up to date and provide better care for their patients.

These projects are at zero cost for the Navarra Health Service. The contracts for nurses, dieticians, computer specialists, etc. and the consumable resources are being financed with funds obtained in competitive public calls for proposals. We are very grateful for the continued support of the high school de Salud Carlos III, with the network Predimed (2007-2013) which I was responsible for coordinating from Navarra, and with the CIBER of Obesity and Nutrition of which we are part of 3 groups from Navarra. The high school Carlos III thinks that these synergic contributions are among the best that the National Health System has.

Obviously, I respect the contrary opinion and the decisions of the rulers in Navarre. Moreover, they will not directly affect our research. But the experience of partnership that I have lived in first person in these years has been so fruitful and satisfactory for both parties that I would be very sad if the agreement of the SNS with the UN for the attendance of the UN workers were to be broken. I think that everything that aims to maintain and strengthen health collaborations between the SNS and the UN will only generate more benefit for all Navarrese both in attendance and in prevention. We all win by adding up.