The changing climate, wars, pandemics, poverty. But also the advance of diseases such as cancer and the difficulties of a National Health Service perpetually under siege. These are the main concerns of Italians according to the opinion poll “The health that will come” conducted by AstraRicerche on 1000 citizens between 18 and 75 years old and 300 doctors and presented in Rome as part of the meeting “Partners for the future. Let’s reimagine health together”.
Health, pessimism for the future
If 40% of those interviewed are convinced that the health of the population will be worse within 5 years, with a further peak among the new generations (55%), it means that pessimism is widespread at all levels. Those who are most worried, paradoxically but not too much, are precisely the doctors, those who experience healthcare every day from the inside: more than half of the sample believes that the health of the population will worsen between 5 and 20 years, in a significantly higher percentage higher than the general population (+12% and +14% compared to the sample average). “As far as young people are concerned, the problems and concerns concern above all mental health and eating disorders”, underlines Francesco Marchionni, vice president of the National Youth Council (the consultative body of the institutions for youth policies) with responsibility for Health and Wellbeing, “and yet in Italy we find a lack of suitable places of care and reception where we can address these problems with those who suffer from them and their families”.
Confidence in research
Fortunately there is also the other side of the coin: all those interviewed focus substantially on diagnostic and therapeutic innovation to obtain benefits in the field of health, as well as on the progress of scientific research to treat diseases that are currently incurable, on the advancement of technology , on precision medicine but also on the diffusion of telemedicine and home care. The way to obtain these results passes through investments in research, but also, say those interviewed, through the development of public-private partnerships. Because if it is true that it is up to national and international institutions to implement strategies to improve the future of health, many think that both individual citizens and the business world, with pharmaceutical companies in the lead, can carve out an important share of responsibility. “The data presented today demonstrate for the first time that Italians put health concerns first,” comments Ugo Cappellacci, President of the 12th Social Affairs Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, “until now it had always been work that agitated the sleep of citizens”. A fact that should make us reflect, and which indicates how much the National Health Service represents a fixed point that Italians do not want to ignore. The younger generations also agree and, according to Marchionni, ask for healthcare for all, but without demonizing the public-private partnership.
350 million for innovative drugs
It is in this context that Novartis’ announcement comes, which speaks of investments in Italy of 350 million euros by 2025, destined for the research and development of innovative drugs in the five therapeutic areas of interest (cardiovascular, immunology, neurosciences, solid tumors and hematology) while at the same time increasing the production capacity of the plants, starting from the two centers of excellence of Torre Annunziata and Ivrea. The first focuses on the export of products to China and the United States, while the second is the main innovation center dedicated to research on radioligands, molecules capable of binding to tumor cells selectively and releasing radiation to eliminate them. The innovative therapeutic approaches at the center of Novartis’ strategy also include drugs based on siRNA (short interfering RNA), a class of RNA molecules capable of inducing the silencing of some genes and therefore of great interest in the clinic.
The partnership for the future is also configured as a collaboration with national and regional institutions, scientific societies and patient associations to reimagine health together and address the main health challenges of tomorrow, first of all the reduction of inequalities in access to care and ‘innovation. Among the commitments made, also the one with the National Youth Council, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to identify areas of intervention and possible solutions to make the Italian healthcare system more efficient for the young generations, whose working groups will start next December 15th.