The Italian Minister of Health Renato Balduzzi visits the NIHMP
A common commitment to meet people’s needs
“The NIHMP uses a holistic approach to deal with fragility and immigration. In this sector, it has become a referral point for the social and health care services at the national level. Furthermore, on the basis of the activities carried on in the island Lampedusa in 2011, it is involved in the technical table of the Italian Ministry of Health for managing the emergency. Our experience allows us to say that migrants are healthy at their arrival to the island”.
This is how the NIHMP Director General Concetta Mirisola received Renato Balduzzi, the Italian Minister of Health. The visit was a sign of appreciation for the clinical, research and training activities that the NIHMP carries on since many years. The Institute uses a multicultural and transdisciplinary integrated model aimed at assisting fragile and socially excluded people, the homeless, sex workers, unaccompanied minors, women victim of violence, refugees, etc. “Medical doctors, nurses, cultural mediators and psychologists work together to better understand the real problems of people”.
An ever-growing number of Italian low-income pensioners seek for assistance at the NIHMP outpatient department in Rome, “we registered a 5% increase in the access to the service”. And estimates are increasing, also considering the new projects financed by the Italian Ministry of Health whose activities include medical examination as well as “free provision of medical devices such as glasses, hearing aids and dentures”, explained Director Mirisola. In more than 4 years, the NIHMP provided about 140,000 medical services, 78% addressed to foreigners and 22% to Italians. Data from Caritas indicate that 8 million and 272 thousand Italian people live in relative poverty, constituting about 13.8% of the whole population, whereas about 3 million people, 5.2% of the population, live in absolute poverty. Pensioners constitute the group exposed to the higher risk.
The President of the Association “Avvocato di Strada” (i.e. “The Street Lawyer”), Antonio Mumolo, showed the network of the Association, which is supported by 700 voluntary lawyers who, in 2011, produced 2,360 free practices. He also outlined that the Rome working point, placed in the NIHMP, has the higher number of assisted people.
Mumolo explained that those people who lose their residence for economical reasons also lose their right to be registered with the National Health Service. “Simple actions are required - says President Mumolo - such as a change in the Law establishing the National Health Service or the use of some Regional funds”.
After a short visit to the outpatient department, the NIHMP projects financed by the Italian Ministry of Health were exposed. The Director General for Medicines and Medical Devices of the Ministry of Health, Marcella Marletta, congratulated the Institute on the excellent start up of the projects, which are expected to contribute to relieve the suffering of people in need.
“A fundamental point for our National Health Service - declared Minister Balduzzi - is the attention to the needs of disadvantaged people. This is not the historical moment for undertaking great projects, but we must not neglect the fundamental characteristics of our National Health System”. The Italian Ministry of Health participates in a WHO programme for the health of migrants and it can have the role of project leader because the NIHMP exists”. “The NIHMP is a strategic Institute - concluded Balduzzi - and this is a sign of what will happen at the end of this experimental period: we will leave to the following Minister a strong Institute difficult to be cancelled”.