Four-year-old girl dies of malaria in northern Italy

A four-year-old girl has died of malaria in hospital in Brescia, near Milan, Italian media reported on Tuesday.

Four-year-old girl dies of malaria in northern Italy
File photo of an Asian Tiger mosquito. Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP

It is unclear how the girl contracted the disease; her family, from Trentino in the far north of Italy, had not recently been abroad.

According to local paper La Voce del Trentino, the girl had never travelled outside the country and the family had spent their summer in the nearby Veneto region of Italy. 

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After being treated first at a hospital in her hometown, the girl was transferred to Brescia's Civil Hospital after she lost consciousness, where there are specialists in treating tropical diseases.

An investigation has been opened in order to identify how the child caught the disease, and the hospital's paediatric department has been disinfected as a precautionary measure.

In December, the Health Ministry shared figures showing that over 3,500 cases of malaria had been reported in the previous five years, though in all but seven instances, the disease was imported rather than indigenous, meaning Italians who travelled to tropical and sub-tropical countries were at highest risk.

Italy was officially declared free of malaria in 1970, but environmental organization Legambiente warned in 2007 that it could make a comeback due to the effects of climate change.

In particular, warmer temperatures have brought mosquito species including the Asian Tiger mosquito, known to transmit several diseases, to Europe. 

In recent years, the first EU cases of West Nile fever were detected in Italy as well as Romania, while Ravenna in the north of the country experienced an outbreak of Chikungunya fever in 2007. was also detected in Italy. Both diseases are known to be transmitted by Asian Tiger mosquitoes. 

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Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

Danish Minister for the Interior and Health Sophie Løhde has warned that, despite increasing activity at hospitals, it will be some time before current waiting lists are reduced.

Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

The message comes as Løhde was set to meet with officials from regional health authorities on Wednesday to discuss the progress of an acute plan for the Danish health system, launched at the end of last year in an effort to reduce a backlog of waiting times which built up during the coronavirus crisis.

An agreement with regional health authorities on an “acute” spending plan to address the most serious challenges faced by the health services agreed in February, providing 2 billion kroner by the end of 2024.

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The national organisation for the health authorities, Danske Regioner, said to newspaper Jyllands-Posten earlier this week that progress on clearing the waiting lists was ahead of schedule.

Some 245,300 operations were completed in the first quarter of this year, 10 percent more than in the same period in 2022 and over the agreed number.

Løhde said that the figures show measures from the acute plan are “beginning to work”.

“It’s positive but even though it suggests that the trend is going the right way, we’re far from our goal and it’s important to keep it up so that we get there,” she said.

“I certainly won’t be satisfied until waiting times are brought down,” she said.

“As long as we are in the process of doing postponed operations, we will unfortunately continue to see a further increase [in waiting times],” Løhde said.

“That’s why it’s crucial that we retain a high activity this year and in 2024,” she added.

Although the government set aside 2 billion kroner in total for the plan, the regional authorities expect the portion of that to be spent in 2023 to run out by the end of the summer. They have therefore asked for some of the 2024 spending to be brought forward.

Løhde is so far reluctant to meet that request according to Jyllands-Posten.