Home » From malaria to cholera to the pandemic, the ISS turns 90 – Healthcare

From malaria to cholera to the pandemic, the ISS turns 90 – Healthcare

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From malaria to cholera to the pandemic, the ISS turns 90 – Healthcare

The Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) today celebrates the 90th anniversary of its birth in the presence of the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella. It is the main public health research body in Italy.
The. is born April 21, 1934 in Rome, under the Ministry of the Interior and with the name of the Institute of Public Health. In that period, Italy was still a country with a high percentage of illiterates, with very large regional and gender differences, with an average lifespan of just over 50 years, still affected by malaria which claimed thousands of victims. It was precisely the fight against malaria that gave impetus to its birth and growth.

Over the years, increasingly effective strategies were developed to combat insect vectors of the disease which led to a clear decrease in malaria cases, especially thanks to the use of DDT (the dangers of which were not yet known). In 1971 the WHO declared Italy a country free from the disease. From 1935 to 1961, under the direction of Domenico Marotta, 4 Nobel Prize winners worked in the Institute, from Ernst Boris Chain to Daniel Bovet.

In 1963 the Nobel Prize came to the Institute Rita Levi-Montalcini. A microtome, six object holders, a holder for object holders, a conveyor belt and a tape holder was what he asked for from Bovet, who in 1963 directed the Institute’s Therapeutic Chemistry Laboratory. In fact, the ISS was the first place to welcome her when she returned to Italy, after having been in America.

In 1973 the Institute was at the forefront in combating the epidemic of cholera in Naples and 3 years later, on 10 July 1976 its experts were among the first to intervene at the Seveso disaster, in which a toxic cloud of dioxin was released. On 23 November 1980, after the Irpinia earthquake, the ISS developed a plan to overcome health emergencies and intervened in the field with its experts.

The years 1990-2000 were instead those of research projects to fight AIDS, while in 2000-2010 the commitment to combat SARS, avian influenza, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (the so-called mad cow). Finally, in 2020 the pandemic emergency saw the Institute at the forefront, monitoring the SarsS-Cov-2 infection, in collaboration with the Regions, as well as developing protocols for containment of the epidemic.

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