The “2018 Report – Donate to cure: Poverty, Healthcare and Drug Donations”, promoted by the non-profit Banco Farmaceutico Foundation and BfResearch, revealed that many Italian families do not have access to medication and medical treatments due to poverty. This is just one of many contradictions in a country like Italy, which, on one hand, is at the forefront of pharmaceutical research, yet barely manages to guarantee adequate medical assistance to low-income families on the other.
Statistics: consequences of the poverty crisis
The report states that in 2018 more than half a million people in Italy could not buy the medications they required due to poverty, yet demand for medication in the rest of the population increased by 22%. Medications in highest demand include those for the nervous system (32%), musculoskeletal system (16%), alimentary tract and metabolism (13.4%), respiratory system (8.7%) and skin diseases (6.3%). Generally-speaking, however, more than 13 million people this year cut back on medical visits and exams due to a lack of funds. The same report reveals that people living in conditions of poverty spend one-fifth less on healthcare than the rest of the population. Low-income families spend only 2.54% of their budget on healthcare while other families spend 4.49%. This equates to approximately 117 euros per year on treatments and medication for low-income families compared to 703 euros per year for other families. Another important finding is that low-income families spend more on medication (54% of their healthcare budget) given that, for obvious reasons, they invest less in prevention. The rest of the population, instead, only spends 40% of their total healthcare budget. In any case, the portion of healthcare expenditures that private citizens are responsible for (the share not paid for by the Italian National Health System) has hit an all-time high, increasing from 37.3% to 40.6%.
Large-scale intervention to prevent the situation from worsening
“There are too many people with incomes that do not cover the bare minimum to survive”, states Sergio Daniotti, president of the non-profit Banco Farmaceutico Foundation. The data published this year in the Poverty and Healthcare report show that this problem in Italy is becoming more solidified and is not likely to diminish in the next few years. The same is true for people suffering from chronic diseases that have difficulty accessing ad-hoc services and wait for concrete answers before confronting the problem. The non-profit Banco Farmaceutico Foundation has proposed spreading the “culture of giving”. While this may be useful in containing some critical situations, only large-scale comprehensive measures will prevent the statistics from worsening.
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