Nine million Italians not getting adequate health care

Expert says too much emphasis on cuts, not prevention

Nine million Italians not getting adequate health care

Rome, March 27 - As many as nine million Italians are not getting adequate health care because they cannot afford to pay or cannot find the treatment they need, according to a report released Wednesday. "Our country now has nine million people who are not treating small and medium-sized disorders," said Walter Ricciardi, director of the Public Health Department in the Catholic University of Rome. Quoted in a special issue of the Lancet medical journal, Ricciardi blamed the problem partly on long waiting lists and rising costs for treatment, especially dental care. He also noted that the use of antidepressants is on the rise in Italy, quadrupling from 8.18 daily doses per 1,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 35.72 in 2010. At the same time, people are eating fewer healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables, and instead turning to cheap junk food and getting less exercise as they strive to save money. The report also notes that Italy's national statistics agency Istat has followed a rising trend in suicides in Italy - a phenomenon being noticed across Europe. Ricciardi said that unlike Italy, other countries in financial crisis have found ways to deliver health services for less. One means, he said, is a greater emphasis on public health and disease prevention, an area where he says Italy is not spending enough. Other countries also do a better job of integrating health with social services, he added. "With us, you are limited to cuts".

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