MILAN, 17 Aug (APM) - Italy’s mandatory vaccination policy is set to become less compulsory after a government concession, but how the new rules will work in practice is still unclear, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Monday.
A bill has been presented in parliament to introduce a “flexible obligation” for children to be vaccinated before being allowed to enter school. A previous law, which is still in force, requires that all children have certificates showing they have had 10 mandatory vaccinations if they want to be allowed to start the school year.
The flexibility will mean mandatory vaccinations are only required for certain cohorts of children, doctors and health operators for diseases where immunisation levels have fallen below recommended levels. At the same time, the authorities will allow parents to present their own “certificates” showing their children have been vaccinated rather than have official ones from health authorities.
Critics of the new policy have criticised the government for caving in to groups opposed to vaccines, the paper said.
Teaching unions are deeply concerned about what will happen when the new term starts in September, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday. “The confusion and uncertainty about vaccines is unacceptable. We believe that we must quickly give explanations and eliminate any doubt and uncertainty about the rules and administrative guidelines,” the unions said.
Five Star Movement founder says homeopathy sales should stop
The founder of the Five Star Movement (M5S), Beppe Grillo, has slammed homeopathy as unscientific and called for pharmacists to stop selling the products, Corriere della Sera reported on Tuesday.
He suggested that pharmacies are confusing people by selling homeopathic remedies alongside medicines. “The scientific world’s strong doubts about their effectiveness is in the public domain,” Grillo said.
He described Italy’s public health service as one of the best in the world because everyone is treated equally regardless of the disease they have. “It is because of this that we are call for the suspension of sales in Italian pharmacies of products unless there is scientific proof that they work,” Grillo said.
However, pharmacists have rejected his suggestions, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday. The national federation, Federazione degli Ordini dei Farmacisti Italiani (FOFI), made clear that current regulations allow these products to be sold.
“Homeopathic remedies are classified in both current EU and national legislation as drugs. There is another issue that needs to be considered which is that many homeopathic remedies are prescribed by doctors and it would be difficult for the pharmacist to disrupt the relationship between the homeopathic doctor and the patient,” FOFI’s president Andrea Mandelli said.
Tuscany aims to cuts drugs spend sharply after 4% fall in H1
Tuscany is planning to cut its drugs expenditure sharply and bring it below the official ceiling by the end of 2019 after 4% fall in spending in the first half of the year, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Saturday.
However, the region still has some way to go. Spending on directly procured drugs, which includes those used in hospitals, amounted to 9.72% of the region’s total health expenditure in the first half. The ceiling is set at 6.89%. Spending on drugs dispensed through the pharmacy reimbursement network accounted for 6.65% of total health spending compared to a ceiling of 7.96%, the paper said.
The region’s health assessor, Stefania Saccardi, highlighted the need to use the lowest costing drugs where there are therapeutically equivalent alternatives available.
Cancer patients in Sicily miss drug treatments after staff shortages
Staff shortages in a hospital pharmacy in Sicily mean that cancer patients are missing out on vital drug treatments, according to Monday’s Il Sicilia.
A union has protested to the health authorities in the region to do something to ensure that it cannot happen again. The pharmacy is question was closed after a staff member could not work that day. Around 70 patients missed out on treatment, the paper said.
Fourth West Nile virus death in Emilia Romagna
Emilia Romagna has had its fourth death from West Nile virus infection in less than a month, Corriere di Bologna reported on Tuesday.
An 85 year old women died in a hospital in Feanza this week. Two of the other deaths were in Ferrara while a fourth occurred at Cento at the end of July.
The virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, is well established in the region. No vaccine has been developed against the disease yet and the only prevention is mosquito suppression, the paper said.