Health is everyone’s right, always and everywhere.

World Health Day is celebrated on April 7. On this occasion, it is interesting to investigate the health situation of the different Italian regions.

In various regions of Italy, the treatment of certain pathologies is very complicated and many patients are forced to go to hospitals that are far from their homes.

Leaving to heal

Just before the Covid19 pandemic almost 800,000 Italians chose to move to hospitals outside the region of residence. Some patients turned to services in the neighboring region because they are closer to home, but many others had to cross the sea and multiple borders, traveling hundreds of kilometers between ups and downs for diagnosis, hospitalization and health checks.

Everyone is free to choose where to seek treatment, but often it is not a choice but a forced decision. The right to health should not be conditioned by place of birth, domicile or residence. All citizens pay taxes and therefore everyone should have access to the same services.

“Health” of the different regions

Regions that provide health care to non-residents receive reimbursement from the patient’s home region. However, few are able to achieve an adequate balance between their residents who leave the region and the patients who come from outside. Let’s see which regions can boast better mobility balance between claims and debts accumulated on other regional health services in the period 2008-2018:

– Lombardy (with a balance that went from over 449 million euros to over 698 million);

– Emilia-Romagna (from over 335 million to over 338 million);

– Tuscany (from over 103 million to over 143 million);

– Veneto (from over 99 million to over 126 million).

The regions more in debt they are rather:

– Campania (from minus 301 million to minus 320 million);

– Calabria (from minus 232 million to minus 281 million);

– Lazio (from minus 93 to minus 216 million; in this case, the figure does not include the Bambino Gesù hospital because it is offshore);

– Sicily (from minus 202 million to minus 213 million);

– Apulia (from minus 175 million to minus 192 million).

Agenas numbers

In the decade 2008-2018, according to an analysis published byNational Agency for Regional Health Services, the economic volume of all non-regional health services increased from 3.6 to 4.3 billion euros, an increase of 19%. Even if each year the Region providing health care is reimbursed, the citizen is entitled to payment for travel and possible accommodation (and not only).

Health in Sardinia

The situation in Sardinia is different from other regions. This region is indeed the most isolated and territorial continuity is not always assured.

Being an island complicates patient travel who, when they have to go to health facilities outside the region, are forced to stay in hotels. Travel and accommodation costs often complicate the situation.

Sardinia also has an internal problem. The considerable territorial extension and the simultaneous absence of a large number of inhabitants make it difficult to keep hospitals and clinics open. As a result many Sardinians no longer have the reference territorial structures and they have to move away from home to settle in the very few centers that still maintain the quality and capacity of care at a high level.

And who can’t move?

Many people travel for a relatively short consultation or treatment. On the other hand, many patients are forced to stay much longer. who faces cancer treatment or transplants he has to move involving his family or supposedly caregivers. But not everyone can afford it, and the state rarely reimburses the costs in full. Those who cannot afford a transfer, or various trips, find themselves in great difficulty.

Fortunately, there are many voluntary associations that help patients, and many hospitals have agreements with low-cost residences. Unfortunately, this commendable civil effort is not enough, we need a policy to match. Many medical professionals have proven themselves to be, but they are often victims of mismanagement as well.

Managers must understand, even more after the Covid experience, that investing in health is essential and necessary. Health should be an equal right for all citizens, regardless of where they live.

Alessandro Milia

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