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Anyone born in Bolzano lives 14 years longer in good health than in Basilicata

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Anyone born in Bolzano lives 14 years longer in good health than in Basilicata

Istat photographs differences in health that are difficult to accept in a country where the NHS should guarantee the same level of care throughout Italy

By Marzio Bartoloni

Those born in Bolzano will be able to benefit from almost 14 years more (13.7 to be exact) of a life in good health than those born in Basilicata: those from Bergamo on average reach 66.5 years of life without diseases against the 52.8 instead of the Lucanians. Here is one of the most evident health inequalities that emerges from the latest Bes report from Istat which photographs differences in health that are difficult to accept in a country where the National Health Service should guarantee the same level of care throughout the country. Of course, there are many variables that play a role, starting with lifestyles such as a sedentary lifestyle and diet which greatly influence the health of Italians, but the divide between North and South remains too large. And it can also be seen in life expectancy given that in Trento the average wait is 84.6 years, 3.2 years more than in Campania.

The gaps between North and South in healthy life expectancy

For the indicator of life expectancy in good health, the latest Istat estimate for 2023 stands at 59.2 years, a value closer to that of 2019 (58.6 years), i.e. before Covid. But what Istat underlines is that “the North-South territorial gap is widening again compared to 2022”. The geographical difference in expected life in good health in 2023 is in fact about 4 years «to the disadvantage of the South (56.5 years), compared to the North (60.6). Thus, although the residents of Trento are the longest-lived in Italy in 2023, «those who can expect to live the greatest number of years in good health are the inhabitants of Bolzano: 66.5 years of the 84.1 years of expected life at birth, equal to approximately 80% of the years to live, compared to 64.2 years in Trento (equal to 76% of expected life)”. Among the Regions that combine high life expectancy at birth and expected life in good health, there are also Tuscany and Veneto (62.5 and 62.3 years in good health, respectively, with 83.8 of expected life for both). Valle d’Aosta, despite having among the highest levels of healthy life expectancy (64), is aligned with the Italian average for expected life (83.1 years). Almost all the regions of Southern Italy are at the opposite: Basilicata is the region with the lowest number of years of life expectancy in good health (52.8 years of the 82.5 years to live) in 2023, followed by Molise (54.9) and Calabria (55.4) with 82.4 and 82.0 years of life expectancy, respectively. Campania, despite being at the lowest levels of average expected life in Italy, has a value of 57.1 years of life in good health, surpassed only by Abruzzo (60.6 years) considering the regions of Southern Italy. If we compare the maximum value of life in good health, i.e. Bolzano with 66.5 years, with the lowest value in Basilicata with 52.8 years, the difference is almost 13.7 years.

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In terms of life expectancy, Italy drops to fourth place in Europe

According to the latest provisional estimates for 2023, life expectancy at birth in Italy stands at 83.1 years, with an estimated increase of approximately 6 months compared to 2022 (it was 82.6 years). In 2023 this indicator shows a further improvement, almost completely recovering the loss of years of expected life due to the pandemic (83.2 years in 2019). Men with 81.1 years of expected average life return to the same level as in 2019, the year in which the highest value ever recorded before was reached, while for women (85.2 years) there are still 0.2 years left compared to the maximum level of 2019 (was 85.4). In the European context, the most updated data available for 2022 allows us to compare the extent of the recovery of the years lost during the pandemic between the different EU countries. In 2019, the year before the pandemic, in the ranking of EU countries, Italy was in second place after Spain (84.0) with a life expectancy at birth of 83.6 years, while in 2022 it was in fourth place place with 82.8 years, after Spain (83.2), Sweden (83.1) and Luxembourg (83.0); while Bulgaria (74.2 years) is confirmed at the lowest levels of the ranking also in 2022, followed by Latvia (74.5) and Romania (75.1).

There are also large differences in life expectancy between the North and the South

At a regional level, the well-known gaps are confirmed in 2023 with the highest average life expectancy at birth in Trento, equal to 84.6 years, 3.2 years more than in Campania (81.4 years). In particular, among the regions of Northern Trento (84.6 years in 2023) it regained the year and a half lost (84.3 years in 2019) and also improved the expected survival levels, also reaching the top of the ranking in 2023 regions, followed by Bolzano (84.1). Valle d’Aosta also improved compared to 2019 (83.1 vs 82.7 years) and Lombardy, which reached 83.9 years (it was 83.6), also in this case the best level ever achieved before. Among the Central regions, although they all recovered compared to 2022 (approximately +0.4 or +0.5 years), only Tuscany (83.8) and Lazio (83.3) also exceeded the 2019 value. Instead, among the regions of Southern Italy, only Basilicata (82.5) realigns to 2019. Molise and Sardinia still have to recover at least six months compared to the pre-pandemic figure: in 2023 the average expected life at birth is respectively estimated at 82.4 years and 82.5 (it was 83.0 years in both regions in 2019).

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Marzio Bartoloni

deputy head of service

This article originally appeared on breakinglatest.news

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