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Abstract Chapter 2

Chapter 2 provides a descriptive overview of the main health outcomes and risk factor indicators for the Italian population, using data from national and international sources. First, a broader international comparison is provided, followed by a more in-depth analysis across Italian regions. Lastly, an overview of the main prevention activities is provided, including indicators for trends in lifestyle-related risk factors, oncologic screening and vaccine coverage rates. In Italy, life expectancy and life expectancy in good health continue to rank very high among other countries in the world. However, much can be done to reduce avoidable mortality, especially through enhancing primary and secondary prevention initiatives. In addition, and quite worryingly, a geographical gradient can be observed, with the North of Italy reporting better outcomes for many indicators, including healthy life expectancy, cancer prevention activities, and risk factors such as sedentary life-style, being overweight and healthy eating. Furthermore, vaccination rates for all recommended vaccines have dropped below the 95% coverage threshold that is generally recommended to maintain herd immunity. In recent years we have seen most Italian regions able to cut excessive spending and meet their budget targets. However, whether these efforts have contributed to increasing the existing divide between the North and the South of Italy remains an open question that should be duly addressed by policy makers in order to meet the objective of promoting equity of health for all.