It is a concrete help to those who visit Italy for a few days or those who, like immigrants and refugees, need health services but do not understand how they work. Four scientific societies realize the project in 8 different languages.

MILAN – The 118 (Italian emergency number) doctors, nurses, and rescuers have presented a new guide to help the population of foreigners who arrive in Italy for tourism, work, or fleeing wars and famines. The “Guide to Emergency Services” was written by four scientific organizations in the EMS: SIEMS (Italian Society of Emergency Medical Services), SIIET (Italian Society of Territorial Emergency Nurses), SIMEU (Italian Society of Emergency Urgency Doctors), and CIVES (Coordination of Voluntary Nurses for Health Emergencies). The brochure was produced in collaboration with the Immigration and Health Board and with the patronage of FISM (Italian Federation of Scientific Societies) and R4H – Rotarians4healtH.

What is a guide to 118 and the emergency room for users?

Often those who arrive in Italy must be conscious of the activities carried out freely and universally by the National Health System. It is, therefore, difficult to guarantee access to services for everyone and to make it clear that there are no limits to assistance for the people who need it. In this Guide, scientific societies have tried to condense the most frequent questions that foreigners ask once in Italy: “Can I speak my language with 118?”, “Are there apps that can help me?”, Or “if I don’t have a residence permit. Can I go to the emergency room?”. The text is divided into eight paragraphs and published in 8 different languages: Italian, English, French, Romanian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Chinese, and Arabic. In each language, there are essential information on emergency services and a series of questions and answers, the ones that most frequently foreigners ask themselves.

Understanding services, to enjoy their rights as human beings.

The novelty of the Guide is that in a single concise text, all the information relating to the 118 and the emergency room services are available. The Guide will be distributed thanks to the National Board of Immigration and Health collaboration. Among the recipients’ are health companies, organizations that deal with migrants seeking asylum, the territorial Caritas, the social services of municipalities and regions, the emergency rooms, and the world of volunteering. According to the latest ISTAT data, 13.8% of foreigners (aged 14 and over) who go to the emergency room find it challenging to explain their ailments to the doctor in Italian, and 14.9% to understand what the doctor says. But there is also difficult to quantify the percentage of people without a residence permit who avoid using the emergency services for fear of a complaint. We are talking – by now – of almost 6 million people (5,756,000 as of January 1, 2021) today in Italy, including half a million immigrants without a residence permit. Minors in this share represent 20.3% of the total. Several people cannot be ignored and must be supported in the same way that assistance is guaranteed to Italian citizens. The Constitution says the health service must be “universal, equal and fair” for all.


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