Palazzo dei Normanni: the possible role of Sicily for health tourism for fragile subjects is discussed

In 1897 the Association for the Economic Good, made up of Sicilian aristocrats and entrepreneurs, invited the Editorial Committee of the medical journal “The Lancet” to investigate Sicily as a “Health Resort”. Lancet accepted the invitation and sent a Special Commission to Sicily which, with the help of illustrious Sicilian doctors and scientists coordinated by Prof Vincenzo Cervello, studied the geographical, geological, agricultural, landscape and botanical characteristics of Sicily.

The Island proved to be extraordinarily fertile and capable to acclimatize tree species from all over the world. This extraordinary ability to allow the flourishing life of such different species was due, for the English researchers, to the unique Sicilian climate characterized by mild temperatures, not too cold and not too hot, to the minimum temperature variations between day and night, between several seasons. Few rainy days, lots of sunshine. Absence of icy wind and few days of very hot sirocco wind. Humidity not high nor too low. This climate and this land at the end of the 19th century had proved very favorable for tuberculosis patients. In fact, mortality from TB in Sicily was more than half lower than in northern Italy and continental Europe.

Since the mid-19th century, when the Tsar of Russia Nicholas I took the tsarina, consumptive, to spend the winter in Palermo, Sicily was a destination for sick people, especially in winter, and this seasonal migration increased after the publication of the 6 articles in the Lancet.

Even today tuberculosis, much rarer, continues to have in Sicily a mortality halved compared to northern Italy, but, a very surprising phenomenon, the Covid-19 pandemic also showed a lower mortality in Sicily than in the regions of northern, central Italy and some of the southern regions.

Mortality is lower both for deaths directly linked to Covid diagnosis and for all-cause mortality compared to mortality in the years 2015-2019. (ISTAT data – Higher Institute of Health.)

The scientific explanation of this phenomenon it will have to be studied and interpreted with qualified scientific studies, but these premises suggest a role for Sicily in relaunching health tourism for fragile subjects from all over Europe in the most rigid months.

The Lancet translated articles with an update with Covid data will be printed and discussed in advance at the CALRE meeting (Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies) Friday morning July 9th, at Palazzo dei Normanni, organized by the President G. Miccichè.

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