The history of tuberculosis: the social role of sanatoria for the treatment of tuberculosis in Italy between the end of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th

Martini, m and Gazzaniga, v and Behzadifar, m and Bragazzi, nl and Barberis, l (2018) The history of tuberculosis: the social role of sanatoria for the treatment of tuberculosis in Italy between the end of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th. J Prev Med Hyg, 59 (4).

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Since ancient times, the most frequently prescribed remedy for the treatment of tuberculosis was a stay in a temperate climate. From the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th, Europe saw the development of sanatoria, where patients were able to benefit from outdoor walks, physical exercise and a balanced diet. Moreover, the institutionalisation and isolation of patients deemed to be contagious remains one of the most efficacious measures for the control of this type of infection. The first sanatorium opened in Germany in 1854, while in Italy the earliest experiments were conducted at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, it was widely believed in Italy that pulmonary tuberculosis could improve in a marine climate. By contrast, the scholar Biagio Castaldi described the salubrious effects of mountain air and documented a lower incidence of tuberculosis among mountain populations, which supported the hypothesis of a hereditary predisposition to the disease. In 1898, several local committees (Siena, Pisa, Padua) were founded to fight tuberculosis. The following year, these gave rise to the Lega Italiana (Italian League) under the patronage of the King of Italy, which helped to promote state intervention in the building of sanatoria. The pioneer of the institution of dedicated facilities for the treatment of tuberculosis was Edoardo Maragliano in Genoa in 1896. A few years later, in 1900, the first specialised hospital, with a capacity of 100 beds, was built in Budrio in a non-mountainous area, the aim being to treat patients within their habitual climatic environment. In the following years, institutes were built in Bologna, Livorno, Rome, Turin and Venice. A large sanatorium for the treatment of working-class patients was constructed in Valtellina by the fascist government at the beginning of the century, in the wake of studies by Eugenio Morelli on the climatic conditions of the pine woods in Sortenna di Sondalo, which he deemed to be ideal. In December 1916, the Italian Red Cross inaugurated the first military sanatorium in the "Luigi Merello" maritime hospice in Bergeggi (SV) to treat soldiers affected by curable tuberculosis. In 1919, a specific law mandated a 10-fold increase in funding for the construction of dispensaries and sanatoria. As a result, the Provincial Anti-tuberculosis Committees were transformed into Consortiums of municipal and provincial authorities and anti-TB associations, with the aim of coordinating the action to be undertaken. In 1927, the constitution of an Anti-tuberculosis Consortium in every province became a legal obligation. Despite this growth in social and healthcare measures, tuberculosis in Italy continued to constitute a major public health problem until the advent of antibiotics in the 1950s. Until that time, the sanatorium played a leading role in the treatment of tuberculosis in Italy, as in the rest of Europe

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences > School of Medicine
Depositing User: samira sepahvandy
Date Deposited: 19 May 2019 07:01
Last Modified: 19 May 2019 07:01

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