DERMATOLOGY AND HUMAN MOBILE POPULATION: AN EXPERIENCE BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND ITALY
Cristaudo A., Padovese V., Terranova M., Morrone A.
Dermatological care for all “A basic human right”
Addis Abeba, 1-4 November, 2006
Migration has been going on throughout the history of mankind, from the moment of man’s first appearance on this earth to the present day, and has completely reshuffled both the human geography and the sanitary conditions of the planet. Migration has always been a complex social and political phenomenon, with considerable implications of a social and health nature. The WHO defines immigrants, refugees, political exiles, migrant workers, travellers and tourists who for any
reason move from one country to another, as Human Mobile Population. According to the WHO in 2004 they numbered 1 billion and 250 million, of which 200 million were emigrants looking for work. So at present what was once thought to be an illness typical of a specific geographical area, for example in the tropics, can now be found anywhere, especially in the northern hemisphere, the goal for most of the immigrants. Nowadays Italy, mostly because of its geographical position and its initial lack of legislation regarding immigration, serves as a gate to Europe for thousands of immigrants and has done so since the mid 1980s. According to the official data on immigration in Italy, in January 2004 there were 2,193,999 foreigners with a regular permit-ofstay, whereas over 1 million were the undocumented immigrants. Considering the importance of the immigration phenomenon, since 1st January 1985 a Department of Preventive Medicine for Migration has been opened in Rome, at San Gallicano Institute. The Service is particularly addressed to regular, illegal and clandestine immigrants, homeless, nomads and those having health problems but without a health insurance card. Moreover, the Department is open to agents of tourism, missionaries, travellers from and to tropical countries, providing specialised tests, visits and updated information on the prevention of the most common diseases in tropical regions. For years, the Department has represented the only public referral point not only for assistance and treatment but also for medicalepidemiologic, social, anthropologic research concerning immigrant, nomadic and homeless populations.
In the developing countries, poverty, that is deprivation as far as longevity, lack of education, poor health service are concerned, affects about a quarter of that population.
In January 2005, San Gallicano Institute has opened a dermatological hospital named Italian Dermatological Hospital (IDH) in Mekele, the capital city of the Tigray region, in Ethiopia.
Communicable diseases and nutritional problems are major health problems in this country.
Malaria, Tuberculosis, acute upper respiratory infections (AURI), diarrhoeal diseases, skin infections and HIV/AIDS are among the top disease burdens. Various skin disease surveys conducted in developing countries have concluded that skin diseases are very common, but little information is available about the magnitude and burden of skin diseases in the general population of northern Ethiopia.
The author reports the working experience of the IDH in Ethiopia and San Gallicano Institute in Rome.
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