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for over 400 thousand Italians medicines and treatments are a luxury – breaking latest news

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for over 400 thousand Italians medicines and treatments are a luxury – breaking latest news

by Ruggiero Corcella

These are compatriots who in 2023 had to ask for help from welfare organizations to receive free medicines: almost 11% more than in 2022. this is the worrying figure from the 11 Donate to cure report by Banco Farmaceutico

Once again a disturbing picture: in the current year, 427,177 people (7 residents out of 1,000) found themselves in conditions of health poverty. That is, they had to ask for help from one of the 1,892 healthcare facilities affiliated with Pharmaceutical Bank to receive free medicines and treatments collected also thanks to the annual Medicine Collection Day which in 2024 will take place from 6 to 12 February. Compared to the 386,253 people in 2022, there was an increase of 10.6%. what emerges from the 11th Report Donate to cure – Health Poverty and Medicine Donation created with the unconditional contribution of IBSA Farmaceutici and ABOCA by OPSan – Observatory on Health Poverty (research body of Banco Farmaceutico). The data were presented on 5 December 2023 at a conference promoted by Banco Farmaceutico and AIFA.

North West and North East, the most represented regions

And if you think that health poverty is a problem only in some areas of the country, perhaps those in the southern regions, you will once again be disappointed: those assisted with health problems and in economic poverty reside, even in 2023, mainly in the regions of the North-West (36% of the total) and the North-East (23%), increasing compared to 2022, but essentially in line with the three-year period 2019-2021. Not that in the South, situations of poverty are miraculously absent. The ability of the Network to intercept people in need is linked to the territorial distribution of charitable bodies, historically more limited in the Centre, South and Islands compared to the North. The different possibilities of access to aid are an involuntary source of disparity among those living in health poverty.

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Pharmaceutical spending on the rise

Meanwhile, family pharmaceutical spending increases, but the share paid by the National Health Service (NHS) decreases. In 2022 (latest available data), total pharmaceutical spending amounted to 22.46 billion euros, 2.3 billion more (+6.5%) compared to 2021 (when spending was 20.09 billion). However, only 12.5 billion euros (55.9%) are paid by the NHS (they were 11.87 in 2021, equal to 56.3%). There remain 9.9 billion (44.1%) paid by families (they were 9.21 in 2021, equal to 43.7%). It means that, compared to the previous year, families paid 704 million euros more out of their own pockets (+7.6%). In six years (2017-2022), pharmaceutical spending by families grew by 1.84 billion euros (+22.8%). All families, including poor ones, bear the increase out of their own pockets and have to pay the entire cost of over-the-counter medicines to which the cost of copays is added (except for exemptions).

The health of the poor

Also re-elaborating the data from the multipurpose survey on families Aspects of daily life, also used in the BES (Fair and Sustainable Wellbeing) Report, which reached its 11th edition in 2022, Istat. The main source of discomfort and dissatisfaction derives from the widespread perception of having “scarce or absolutely insufficient economic resources”. In fact, almost 19 million people (33% of residents in Italy in 2021) hold this opinion and experience the gap between their economic needs and the possibility of adequately satisfying them every day. The subjective perceptions are distant from the data on the incidence of poverty (absolute and relative) detected through the “objective” parameters conventionally used by Istat, which however offer a worrying picture, with 8.7 million individuals in relative poverty of which 5 .6 million in absolute poverty.

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However, the situation regarding health is less alarming, considered good and very good by 71% of residents (42.27 million individuals), neither good nor bad by 24% (14.27 million), bad and very bad by 4 .9% (2.92 million). In this case it could be said that the interviewees shy away from dramatization, preferring a more cautious self-definition. This “diplomatic” position, however, definitely loses ground when interviewees are asked whether, in carrying out their daily activities, they suffer from limitations (serious or non-serious) lasting more than five months, due to their health problems. The affirmative answer involves, in this case, 23% of the population, or 12.89 million people. A not small share which appears closer to the actual reality, marked by the spread of chronic diseases, which compromise self-sufficiency and increase the need for social and healthcare assistance. It is interesting to note that the problem of limitations affects both those who believe they have “scarce or absolutely insufficient” economic resources (25.2%) and those who consider them “excellent or adequate” (22.3%) (2021 data) to a similar extent. , confirming the fact that economic conditions do not protect against psychophysical decline. Economic inequality, however, once again affects the issue of renouncing, for economic reasons, necessary specialist visits. This behavior is, in fact, very present among those who consider themselves economically vulnerable, with an incidence six times higher than among those who declare they have no economic problems (6.1% vs. 1.6%).

Without the Third Sector, the stability of the NHS would be at risk

There are 12,578 non-profits mainly active in health services (and employ 103 thousand people). Of these, 5,587 finance their activities mostly from public sources. Taking into account only this subset, non-profits represent at least 1/5 of the total Italian healthcare facilities (over 27,000), generating a value of 4.7 billion euros. Finally, the circular relationship between income poverty and health poverty is confirmed: the percentage of those in poor or very poor health conditions is higher among those in precarious economic conditions compared to the rest of the population (6.2% vs. 4.3% in 2021). Furthermore, the quality of life linked to serious health problems is worse for those with fewer resources than for those with a medium-high income (25.2% vs. 21.7%). Economic resources do not in themselves protect against serious pathologies (especially as age increases), but they allow us to better deal with their consequences. Compromising the health status of the economically vulnerable is contributed by the refusal to carry out specialist visits, which is five times higher than the rest of the population.

Through the rigor of the scientific method of the Observatory on Health Poverty, we want to provide a contribution of knowledge on some essential aspects to qualify our society; in particular, this year we would like to underline that many people in conditions of poverty are unable to access treatment not only because they do not have economic resources, but also because, often, they do not even have a GP, they do not know their rights in health matters, or they do not have a network of relationships and friendships that help them navigate the offer of health services. Without the Third Sector (and, in particular, without the thousands of non-profit institutions, volunteers and workers who take care of the sick), not only would the NHS be less sustainable, but our country would be humanly and spiritually poorer , declared Sergio Daniotti, president of the Banco Farmaceutico Ets Foundation.

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December 5, 2023 (modified December 5, 2023 | 12:27)

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