imageLa salute prima de tutto! Health is first of all! 

I am on holiday with my favorite person in the world, my husband, and we are Italophiles. He comes by that bias genetically, and I through loving him and sharing so many joyful, enchanting experiences in la Bella Italia over our many years of marriage.

The day before flying to Italy, Dr. Michael Painter, Senior Program Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, posted a link on his Facebook page to this wonderful explanation of why Italy ranks as the second-healthiest country in the world, just after Singapore. The rankings were done by Bloomberg-Business Week in connection with a World Economic Forum meeting, and published here in full. [FYI, the US ranked 33rd in this study].

The Italian Tribune article mentions several facets of health/care in Italy which bolster Italians’ health status:

  • The nature of the terrain and work life for most Italians requires plenty of walking, often traversing steps or hills. [THINK: Italians don’t need to track their steps with digital pedometers].
  • Walking is, in fact, part of an Italian’s familial social life, especially after dinner, taking the post-meal walk — La Passeggiata.
  • The health care system is a National Health Service, guaranteed to all Italian citizens and legal foreign residents. The nation allocates just over 9% of its national GDP to health care (vs. over 17% in the U.S.), discussed in The Commonwealth Fund’s report comparing national health systems around the world. Patients are responsible for a maximum co-pay, per visit, of about 36 Euros — with a “visit” defined as including all services, such as a doctor check-up, an MRI, and a prescription — that’s 36 Euros for all of that in one bundle. [In today’s currency exchange, Euro:$US, that’s about $41].

And then there’s the food — which I will cover in the next post written from Florence, a haven of wonderful locavore delights and Slow Food purveyors.

I’ve written about local food in Italy in a previous Health Populi post here — Zero Kilometres and the Future of Food. Stay tuned for more health-ful posts from my vacation in Italy…on food, art, the value of downtime and unplugging, and the healing power of love.