This shocking figure comes from Italian Institute of Statistics (Istat) data reported by Gian Carlo Blangiardo, demographer and director of the Statistics Department of Bicocca University in Milan. The mortality data cover the first seven months of 2015 and if the trend has continued, there will be 69,000 deaths more in 2015 than in 2014.
Yes, the Italian population is getting older – Italy is towards the top of world tables for life expectancy, or at least it was in 2014! This fact alone though, according to Blangiardo, only explains 19,000 of the deaths. What about the other 50,000? We need to go back to WWI and WWII to find a such big increase, he says, or to Eastern Europe following the fall of the Soviet Union.
But we can also link this pattern in data to a more recent event, such as the implementation of austerity measures in Greece, when in the three years from 2008 to 2010 the infant mortality rate rose by 43%. Is Italy living through the same nightmare? Is this the inevitable consequence of the planned impoverishment of life conditions, following the orders of the Troika and executed by Italian governments since 2011?
Renzi’s government cut the national healthcare budget by 2.3bn euro in 2015, and plans to reduce it by another 2bn in 2016. This has led to a reduction in the number of hospital beds and specialised tests, and to worse working conditions for healthcare workers. Minister Maria Elena Boschi has announced government plans to cut the healthcare budget by 10bn euro over five years. On December 16, in protest against these cuts, the doctors and nurses working in public healthcare went on strike.
The cuts plan is not only part of the general austerity project, but it’s also a way of supporting the activities of the private healthcare sector, held mostly in the hands of powerful organizations linked to the Catholic Church, like Comunione e Liberazione.