Healthcare: children and adolescents move from South to North


There are tens of thousands of children and adolescents who are forced to migrate from the South to the North to seek treatment. The causes are mental and neurological disorders, nutrition, and metabolism. The Healthcare Reform of 1978 and subsequent modifications have not yet succeeded in bridging the difference in the healthcare offer between the South and the Centre-North. As a result, the chronicization of interregional health migration has occurred.


Interregional mobility means taking advantage of the services or going to be treated in a region other than that of residence. A high emigration indicates an insufficient standard of care. It means that the user chooses the closest healthcare facility, even if outside the region of residence. One way to have high complexity and specialization services unfortunately provided by a few qualified structures.

In 2020, the total number of hospitalizations carried out outside the region was 516,875. The hospitalization rate of 11.4 per 100 residents and a national passive mobility of 7.6%. The total number of hospitalizations provided before the age of majority was 854,272, with a hospitalization rate of 9.1 per 100 residents. The absconding index is equal to 8.7% overall, but it affects children and adolescents residing in the southern regions for 41,000 hospitalizations.

A third of children and adolescents in the South go to specialist centers. The major destinations are Rome, Genoa, Florence, to receive treatment for mental or neurological disorders, nutrition or metabolism. One way to limit the healthcare migration of young patients and their families is to upgrade the structure and quality of existing centers . Furthermore, the regional return of skills migrated to the North or abroad and a greater relationship/communication between operators for shared care pathways would also be needed.


It is possible to be treated in the South, if the organization of services correctly directs the demand for health by establishing a network for an appropriate response. Unfortunately, the imbalance in the territorial distribution of the structures will still force too many minors and their families to migrate for treatment.

  • Every year 41,000 children and adolescents are forced to migrate from South to North to get treatment (


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