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Revista Española de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 2173-9110Print version ISSN 1135-5727


CHAMORRO, Cati; DIAZ-ECHENIQUE, Leonardo; OLIVAN, Jesús  and  VILLALBI, Joan R. Local public health services: a descriptive study of the municipalities of Catalonia in 2016. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2019, vol.93, e201905026.  Epub Sep 07, 2020. ISSN 2173-9110.


The health system in Spain rests mostly in the Autonomous Communities (similar to the states in the US). The public health activities of many local governments are little studied. The objective of this work was to bring knowledge about the public health activities of the municipalities, providing information obtained from a recent survey in Catalonia.


Descriptive study based on a survey to public health officers in the 119 municipalities above 10,000 population in Catalonia, excluding the city of Barcelona. The survey was conducted between May and October 2016, with 103 municipalities (86.6%) reporting on their services in 2015, prior to the survey. Data were collected and descriptive analyses performed.


A consolidation of both political and professional public health structures of the municipalities was observed. Most frequent activities in health protection were related to legionella control, the control of urban pests and the management of complaints and requests by citizens. Most frequent activities in the field of health promotion were related to physical activity and health, prevention in tobacco and alcohol, food and nutrition. There were relatively few changes reported in public health structures and their officers, as well as in human resources.


In Catalonia, municipalities above 10,000 population have a remarkable level of activity in public health. Both the areas of health protection (with mandatory minimum services for local governments) and of health promotion show high levels of activity. The system seems stable regarding political changes and budget constraints. There are opportunities for improvement in the training of professionals and service accreditation. It would be desirable to find ways to improve coordination among these services.

Keywords : Public health; Public health administration; Public health practice; Local government; Evaluation.

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