Following publication of Law no. 52/2014, of 25 August, on cross-border healthcare, the Ministry of Health will identify, approve and officially recognized national reference centers, particularly for diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases. To that extent, was published in September 30, 2014, the Order no. 194/2014, of 30 September, establishing the concept, the identification process, approval and recognition from the National Reference Centres for the care of health, particularly for diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases.

The reference centers are defined in this legal framework as any type of service, department or health facility, recognized as the highest exponent of expertise in providing quality health care in clinical situations that require a concentration of highly differentiated technical and technological resources, knowledge and experience, due to the low prevalence of the disease, the complexity in diagnosis or treatment and / or the high cost of it, being able to conduct postgraduate education and scientific research in their respective medical fields.

The process for recognition of the National Reference Centers is also established in this Order, being the Regulation on the Application for the Recognition of Reference Centers an attachment to this Order.

This recognition process is a responsibility of the Ministry of Health and is formalized by decision of the member of the Government responsible for the health sector, and valid for a 4 year period, without prejudice of the Centers being subjected to periodic evaluation by external audit, in order to verify the compliance of the general and specific requirements that were the basis of their recognition.

By this Order it is also incorporated the National Commission for the Reference Centers, which, among others, has an essential role in the recognition of Reference Cent ers, with the aim to propose to the responsible member of the Government the recognition decision, or the termination of such recognition as a Reference Center.

Members of the National Commission for the Reference Centers were appointed by Order No. 13163-C / 2014 and must submitted before December 15, 2014 a report on priority areas for the establishment of reference centers.