Italy long-lived but dementia rise -OECD

Halving cigarettes and alcohol would lengthen lives by 13 mths

(ANSA) - Paris, November 10 - Italy is fourth in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's charts for life expectancy with 82.6 years in 2016, the OECD said in its Health at a Glance report for 2017.
    The OECD said this raised various challenges linked to ageing. For example, it said, Italy has the second-highest rate of dementia among the countries assessed, equal to 2.3% of the population in 2017. This is expected to rise to 3.4% by 2037, the OECD said.
    The report said Italy must "improve healthcare spending efficiency", stating that Italy is one of the "worst" in terms of introducing generic pharmaceuticals, with an 8% value and 19% volume.
    It said healthcare spending in Italy is equivalent to 3,391 dollars per person, which is, however, slightly lower than the OECD average.
    It said one way Italy could decrease spending would be by reducing antibiotic prescriptions, which it said is the fourth-highest of all OECD countries, by introducing prevention strategies for antimicrobial resistance.
    Despite this cited inefficiency, the report said Italy offers universal health coverage that is "generally high quality" with costs that are generally lower than other OECD countries, and only 4.8% of Italians foregoing a medical consultation due to cost.
    The report said regional disparities in Italian healthcare continue to be worrisome, with "southern regions historically unable to provide adequate service as defined on a national level".
    In terms of obesity, it said Italy has one of the lowest rates among the adult population, at 10.3%, but that obesity rates among adolescents in Italy are on the rise.
    It said Italy is "near the OECD average" for other risk factors such as cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, but said in general that "halving consumption of cigarettes and alcohol would increase life expectancy by 13 months".
    In all OECD member countries, life expectancy at birth has increased by more than 10 years since 1970, now standing at an average of 80.6 years, with Japan leading at 83.9 years, followed by Spain and Switzerland tied at 83 years.