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Disparity in care: the North-South gap in the right to health in Italy

A critical challenge to guarantee full and equal access to Italian health services

“One country, two cures. The North-South gaps in the right to health”. These are the words from the report of the latest issue of Svimez, Association for the development of the industry of Southern Italy, presented in Rome in collaboration with Save The Children.

According to Luca Bianchi, Serenella Caravella and Carmelo Petraglia, editors of the report, there are more problematic health conditions, fewer preventive initiatives and a higher cancer mortality rate in the South.

As already known, in the South prevention and treatment services are less efficient, with lower public health spending and greater difficulties in receiving assistance. The distances to travel to receive the right treatment are longer, especially for more serious pathologies.

The importance of prevention

In the video shared by Svimez during the presentation of the report, two women are presented, one from Calabria and one from Emilia, both suffering from breast cancer.

At the age of 51, the Emilian woman, by periodically carrying out preventive screening, manages to identify the tumor early, still in its early stages. This allows her to immediately start the treatments provided by the Emilia-Romagna Public Health System just a few meters from her home.

The sixty-year-old Calabrian woman, however, only after experiencing physical symptoms, underwent mammography screening and was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. The woman needs to be operated on in a facility in the North.

From an Istat source, in the last ten years, in Emilia-Romagna, the mortality rate from breast cancer has reduced by 17%, in Calabria it has increased by 2%.

The disparity in care between North and South represents a critical challenge in ensuring full and equal access to health services in Italy.

The differences highlighted in the Svimez and Save The Children report highlight the need for a renewed commitment to improve prevention, accessibility and quality of care in the southern regions.

Investing in prevention and health education, together with an equitable distribution of health resources, could help significantly reduce the North-South gap in the right to health.

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