The unequal pandemic, a year of COVID-19 emergency in Italy

The report on INTERSOS proximity medicine interventions in Italian informal settlements during the COVID-19 emergency.

picture © Giulio Piscitelli



One year after the WHO declaration of a pandemic, INTERSOS launches a report on the interventions implemented in Italy in the context of the COVID-19 emergency from the very early stages of the emergency at the end of February 2020 until October 2020.


Since 2011 INTERSOS has been active in Italy with various projects aimed at the protection and realisation of the right to health of people living in conditions of severe social exclusion, pursuing the goal of fully including people in the public health and social service.

The spread of SARS-CoV2 infection and the resulting health, social and economic crisis immediately created the need to build adequate and sustainable prevention, monitoring and management interventions in contexts of extreme social marginality. In collaboration with local institutions and with the Regional Health Services, INTERSOS has remodeled the projects underway in Foggia, in the Capitanata area, and in Rome, also starting two projects in the Ionian Calabria and in Sicily in the informal rural settlements inhabited mainly by foreign agricultural workers. The reconversion and start-up of INTERSOS projects in the COVID-19 emergency were aimed at protecting the health of the population groups who, due to the conditions of deprivation and the fewer resources to which they have access, are more exposed and more affected by spread of COVID-19, and at the same time more difficult to reach from the health system.

The protection of the health of migrants and the most vulnerable populations is an essential public health act, which must be guaranteed by social and health policies, because the right to health is a fundamental and inalienable right of people, but also and above all because protecting the health of the more fragile means defending the health of the entire community. The pandemic has exposed the problems of social justice, the poor accessibility and usability of services and the weakness of a territorial medicine that has never been sufficiently valued. The pandemic has taught us hard that the health of the entire population is interconnected, that the conditions of people left on the margins of society, occupiers, farm workers, homeless people, migrants without a residence permit, all concern without exclusion.

This report tells the work of the INTERSOS mobile teams, an intervention that can be read as a pilot experience of integrated territorial assistance between public and private social, cross-cultural, multidisciplinary, based on community involvement and re-proposable both in urban and in rural contexts.



Flavia Melillo
Flavia Melillo