The impact of Covid on EU countries has hit health systems that are already in difficulty. Healthcare expenditure necessarily increased, but Italy still remained below the European average. This is what emerges from the OECD annual report on health, released in Paris. On various points and with varying degrees of intensity, the health systems of the 27 EU countries have suffered, paying above all for defects and insufficiencies pre-existing the pandemic, such as the aging of the population, and the shortage of medical personnel, including nurses.
In 2020 Italy tenth for investment in healthcare
As for Italy, the emerging data is that spending on Health as a percentage of GDP continues to be among the lowest, clearly below the European average and far from Germany and France. Looking at 2020, the year of the greatest impact of Covid, public and private health expenditure of European countries increased by more than 5% given the contingency of the pandemic, with a peak of more than 10% recorded in Bulgaria, the Republic Czech and Hungary. Italy is tenth for investment in healthcare, with a percentage of GDP of 9.6%, against an EU average of 10.9%.
Life expectancy declining
This value is above all kept up by Germany, the one that spends the most on citizens’ health compared to what it produces, 12.8%, followed by France (12.2%) and then by Sweden and Austria with 11.5%. In figures, 550 euros less per capita were spent in Italy than the European average, in absolute numbers 2,609 euros per person against the 3,159 of the EU average. In Germany, expenditure reached 4,831 euros, in France 3,807. Another dramatic datum is the drop of over a year in life expectancy in Europe, the likes of which has not occurred since the Second World War: minus 1.2 years less on average, kept high by Eastern countries, Bulgaria in the lead (minus 3 ,7). The expectation of Italians, although decreasing, stopped at minus 0.7, above the EU average.
Covid deaths concentrated in the over 60 range
As for the number of deaths from Covid, the figure confirms 1.1 million deaths from the pandemic, a number that is considered underestimated when compared to the general increase in mortality, on average higher by at least 300,000 units. The losses are located above all in the over 60s group, with a percentage of 90%. Clogged emergency services, penalties for patients with various pathologies who have had to postpone checks and prevention, hospitals overwhelmed with requests are attributable – according to the OECD report – to a pre-existing problem in all European countries and beyond: insufficient and not enough staff remunerated.
Italian system penalized by the shortage of nurses
In the generalized shortage of personnel, the shortage of nurses stands out, which penalizes the Italian system more than others: if the EU average is 8.3 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants, Italy has 6.3. Switzerland and Norway are the ones that touch the highest, exceeding 18 per 1,000