Elderly Care Commission. Barbanotti: Elderly theme deserves a different type of attention

The Ministry of Health appoints Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia to lead the new Commission, a "think tank of ideas". Protests of the secular world. The comment of the executive secretary of the Waldensian Diaconia

foto da Unsplash

Rome (NEV), October 2, 2020 – The elderly, the nursing homes, health care. Who will take care of all this, after the COVID emergency and all that followed? The newly created Commission for the reformation of health and social health care for the elderly population, established by a specific decree of the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza. The news arrived on Monday 21 of September, with a statement published on the Ministry’s website: the Commission will be chaired by Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, grand chancellor of the Pontifical Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family.
Paglia will not be alone in the task. The writer and poet Edith Bruck, Maite Carpio, film director and journalist, Giampiero Dalla Zuanna, professor of Demography at the University of Trento, Nerina Dirindin, professor of Public Economics and Health Policy at the University of Turin, the writer Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Alessandro Pajno, jurist, former President of the Council of State, Silvio Brusaferro, president of the Higher Institute of Health, Leonardo Palombi, professor of Epidemiology at the University of Tor Vergata (Rome), and Mario Barbagallo, president of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics-European Region, will also be part of the Commission. The new body met for the first time on Monday 28 September
For Gianluca Barbanotti, executive secretary of the Waldensian Diaconia, the decision of the Ministry “leaves quite dumbfounded. First of all for the unusual communication choice: no one in the sector had been informed before about the desire to set up this new organ. Furthermore,  no regions, local authorities,  third sector, voluntary work, trade unions, cooperation  agencies have been involved: the world of those who take care of the elderly in all its components is completely absent. The issue of the elderly deserves a completely different kind of attention, with effective and real involvement of all interested parties. We cannot imagine that it can only be discussed at the health level . This is not the time for ideologies – continues the note released  by the Diaconia – but it is time to put together the technical skills gained in our country in the sector and compare them with the best foreign experiences, giving the right space to scientific evidence”.
The appointment of the representative of the Catholic world to lead the new body has aroused quite a few reactions. The philosopher Paolo Flores D’Arcais called it “a disgrace”. On Monday 21, shortly after Speranza’s announcement, the secretary of the Union of Atheists and  Agnostic Rationalists  (Uaar), Roberto Grendene, said: “Not even a day has passed since the 150th anniversary of the 20th of September (when the Bersaglieri breached the wall of Porta Pia in Rome, thus completing the unification of Italy), and here the minister of health entrusts the leadership of the commission for the elderly health care to an archbishop. Instead of a public and secular health care, Speranza seems to be looking at a private and religious health care: no doubt about it, it is yet another confirmation that secularism in this country has gone to rubbish!”.