Cuts hamper Italian healthcare response to coronavirus
Doctors and politicians ask that the public health system, now managed by the regions, be returned to the State
Fewer toilets, fewer hospital beds and fewer resources for the system, to the point that some doctors in Bergamo, one of the provinces worst hit by the coronavirus in Italy, have had to buy the masks themselves at hardware stores because the authorities they were not provided. "The cuts in healthcare, which have been dramatic in recent years, surely have influenced the response to the pandemic, ”denounces Guido Marinoni, president of the College of Physicians of Bergamo, who is outraged when he describes how the country's successive governments have used the public health system to try to balance the accounts. “Hospitals have been closed and the number of GPs has been reduced. And now we don't even have enough protection devices. "
Marinoni considers that this reason is weighing on the difficulty of responding to the emergency as well as the initial errors in management, which turned several hospitals in the Lombardy region, the most affected, into sources of contagion. The pandemic, which is already approaching 125,000 infected and exceeds 15,000 deceased, has opened a debate in Italy about the need to strengthen the health system and whether it would be appropriate for the State to assume these powers again. These are in the hands of the regions after a 2001 reform that caused a huge difference in services between the richest areas in the north and the most backward in the south. "It is clear that we will have to rethink how the system is organized when this is over," says Marinoni.
Italy has been cutting health care for at least 10 years. A report published last year by the Gimbe Foundation considers that, in the last decade, the public health system has received a snip of 37,000 million euros in its financing. The number of permanent workers in the public sector has been reduced by more than 42,000 people as hospitals across Italy were closed. The number of hospital beds For every 1,000 inhabitants, this has dropped to 3.2, compared to a European average of 5. At the same time, the copayment obligation for many services was multiplying and private healthcare was growing.
"The public system is actually cheaper for a country, but the private healthcare pressures and the insurers over the politicians have been very strong, because in this sector you can earn a lot of money », warns Giovanni Leone, vice president of the National Federation of Colleges of Doctors and Dentists. It further confirms that the funding cuts "have had a major impact" on the difficulties Italy is having in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Leone considers it paradoxical that the authorities present the toilets as "heroes" when they do not provide them with enough protection measures to develop their work and have been deprived of resources for years. “We are missing many of the specialized doctors we had before. When Europe forced Italy to pay them during the last year of training, the government decided to keep only half. So we now have the oldest medical class in Europe. " The coronavirus has caused death of more than 120 toilets, including 77 doctors and 23 nurses, two of whom committed suicide for reasons linked to the pandemic.
Carlo Palermo, national secretary of Anaao medical association, the most important among the doctors working in hospitals, hopes that the emergency situation we are experiencing profoundly changes the organization of public health. "This system has gone wrong for us," he says, expressing himself in favor of the State assuming again the competencies. «Between the north and the south there are up to four years of difference in life expectancy. The issue of health cannot be addressed differently in each region. One only has to think about the relations with other countries that need to be maintained. Palermo denounces how in recent years "economic criteria»In management, which has led to the southern regions, which have the least resources, being forced to cut personnel and the number of beds in hospitals.
Politicians from the 5 Star Movement (M5E) and the Democratic Party (PD), the two main formations that support the government coalition, have been in favor of the Recentralization of healthcare. Andrea Orlando, 'number two' of the PD, has asked that the powers be returned to the hands of the State because it makes no sense to have "twenty different systems" or "excessive concessions" to the private sector. In the same vein, Vito Crimi, interim leader of the M5E, and his fellow member Pierpaolo Sileri, deputy minister of Health, who showed that public health already showed the need for a reorganization "in peacetime", have been shown. The League, the main opposition party and which maintains an autonomous position, is totally against a possible recentralization.
The number of patients in the ICU falls for the first time
The coronavirus yesterday exceeded 124,000 infected, of which about 21,000 have been cured and more than 15,000 have died. Yesterday he threw a data for hope: for the first time the number of people admitted to hospital ucis was reduced. The data fell by 74 people. Angelo Borrelli, head of civil protection and special commissioner for this crisis, celebrated this "important news that allows our hospitals to breathe." Although the number of additional cases remained below the 5,000 infected, as throughout the week, yesterday recorded the lowest number of new deaths in ten days: 681. The national decline in the number of admitted to the ucis came mainly from the fall in Lombardy, the most affected region, where the figure was reduced by 55. In this territory an ordinance signed by the Lombard president, Attilio Fontana, comes into force today, which prohibits leaving the house without protection that covers the nose and mouth . Due to the great difficulty in finding face masks on the market, the use of scarves is also allowed. Supermarkets and grocery stores are also required to provide customers with disposable gloves and hydro-alcoholic gel to disinfect their hands.