Journal Information
Vol. 221. Issue 8.
Pages 468-469 (October 2021)
Vol. 221. Issue 8.
Pages 468-469 (October 2021)
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The role of scientific societies in a post-COVID world
El papel de las sociedades científicas en un mundo pos-COVID
J. García-Alegríaa,b,c,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, P. Garrido-Lópeza,d,e, FACME Board of Directors 1
a Federación de las Asociaciones Científico Médicas Españolas (FACME), Marbella, Málaga, Spain
b Sociedad Española de Medicina Interna, Marbella, Málaga, Spain
c Servicio de Medicina Interna, Agencia Sanitaria Costa del Sol, Málaga, Spain
d Sociedad Española de Oncología Médica, Marbella, Málaga, Spain
e Servicio de Oncología Médica, Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain
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Initially, scientific societies relating to diverse branches of medicine arose out of the members’ desire to share information and experiences, due to common professional interests, and to establish standards for medical education.

Throughout the 20th century, these societies broadened their aims and activities after integrating structured continuing education; generating evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, providing knowledge via network research, proposing quality standards and accreditation systems for clinical services, participating in the creation of post-graduate training programs, consulting with regulatory authorities in the organisation and evaluation of care quality, and collaborating with patient associations, among others. The current medical and scientific world would not be what it is today without the work of national and international scientific societies.

The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world we once knew in a traumatic and unprecedented manner. It has forced us to completely adapt the structure of the health system and to learn at an unparalleled rate1. Health centres that suffered the massive impact have changed up their organisation by blurring the boundaries between medical specialties thanks to multi-professional collaboration and innovation, physical distancing for outpatient service users, and new care pathways2,3. Non-COVID illnesses have also been significantly impacted, however the actual extent is pending evaluation4.

From the social and political perspective, as seen in the media, interest has grown significantly as scientists and health workers offer emergency solutions to tackle the pandemic, to minimise as much as possible the impact to health and to social and economic consequences, as well as to advise on optimal vaccination strategies.

Among the general population, interest in scientific topics has been higher than ever before and specialised terms and concepts, typically restricted to professional forums, have come to form part of popular language. Opinion leaders from multiple medical specialties have had a permanent and presence in the media, informing the public on multiple aspects regarding infection. These individuals have acted as qualified correspondents or spokespeople, acquiring vast social influence and visibility.

Within this context of widespread crisis, it seems necessary to reflect on the role that scientific societies in general have played in Spain, and more specifically that of the Federation of Spanish Scientific Medical Associations (FACME, for its initials in Spanish), as a chartered organisation of the same, and ponder what role they should take on in the post-COVID era.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Spanish scientific societies offered recommendations on prevention and clinical practice based on the swiftly changing evidence5, analysed the validity of multiple diagnostic tests6, promoted patient registries and the assessment of prognostic models7,8, made key contributions to the execution of clinical trials that were completed in record time, and adapted their traditional organisation and training modalities to non-face-to-face alternatives.

FACME is a national organisation of over 120,000 doctors from 46 scientific societies related to the medical specialties recognised in Spain. As a body for cross-sectional coordination, it has been granted highly relevant prominence. FACME established multiple work and consulting groups: clinical care for patients with COVID-19, prevention and public health measures, occupational risk prevention for health professionals, vaccination, maintenance of medical care for non-COVID patients, COVID-19 diagnostic tests, evaluation and information systems, digital transformation of the health system, communication and participation by patients and society, support for coordinated clinical research, and public health care. Over the months, numerous utility-focused documents have been drafted, for professionals and patients alike, in relation to various aspects of COVID-19 that have received significant dissemination and impact9.

On the other hand, the organisation has advised regulatory health authorities on vaccination strategies and priorities in light of the disease. Within the Medical Profession Forum, it has participated in workgroups relating to Human Resources, Continuing Education, and Primary Care aimed at guiding ministry authorities in these strategies.

Despite the tragedy endured and future hardships that all countries are currently facing, we have before us the extraordinary opportunity to enact profound reforms10. In line with the foregoing, the European Union recently approved an unprecedented initiative, with unparalleled economic support, called the Next Generation EU recovery plan, with the aim of promoting reconstruction of the member states following COVID-19.

Following this serious crisis, this is a landmark opportunity to modernise our health care system, support science and biomedical research, and bring about a true technological transformation. Spain is at an historic crossroads and as of today its future is yet to be decided. We cannot neglect this opportunity to successfully tackle the current challenges we face via a large-scale national agreement in which health, science, and innovation must be the three founding pillars.

More than ever before, scientific societies, as knowledgeable and experienced organisations, together with FACME in its coordinating and cross-sectional role, have at this time inevitable commitments and duties to our society. We are facing a key challenge and must become the protagonists as spokespeople for the health, education, and science authorities in the context of a global initiative that includes other institutions and organisations in our country.


This study did not receive any type of funding.

Appendix A
Remaining members of the FACME Board of Directors

Benjamín Abarca Buján (Sociedad Española de Médicos Generales y de Familia), Andrés Íñiguez Romo (Sociedad Española de Cardiología), Cristina Avendaño Solá (Sociedad Española de Farmacología Clínica), Paulino Cubero González (Sociedad Española de Medicina de Familia y Comunitaria), Juan Sergio Fernández Ruiz (Sociedad Española de Médicos de Atención Primaria), Ángel Gayete Cara (Sociedad Española de Radiología Médica), José Ángel Hernández Rivas (Sociedad Española de Hematología y Hemoterapia), José María Jover Javalón (Asociación Española de Cirujanos) y Cecilio Santander Vaquero (Sociedad Española de Patología Digestiva).

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Please cite this article as: García-Alegría J, Garrido-López P. El papel de las sociedades científicas en un mundo pos-COVID. Rev Clin Esp. 2021;221:468–469.

Appendix A lists the rest of the members of the FACME Board of Directors.

Copyright © 2021. Elsevier España, S.L.U. and Sociedad Española de Medicina Interna (SEMI)
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