Italian mayor imposes ban on illness

By Benedetto Cataldi

Image caption, Acquapendente's hospital was founded in the late 15th Century

The mayor of a small town in central Italy has issued a controversial official edict ordering citizens not to fall ill.

Alberto Bambini, left-wing mayor of Acquapendente, said he wanted to draw attention to a decision by the regional governor to close the town's hospital.

From 1 January 2011, the town will have little more than emergency care.

The mayor said people should avoid any sickness or disease needing hospital treatment, particularly if urgent.

Acknowledging he was acting "provocatively", he warned that anyone who falls foul of the town by-law did so "under penalty of being forcibly transported to the Belcolle Hospital" some 30 miles away, "or of being fined in proportion to the seriousness of their pathology or disease".

Mr Bambini has also ordered fellow citizens to avoid any behaviour that could jeopardise their health, advising them not to leave their homes too often or practise any sport.

He told the BBC he was aiming to "turn the spotlight on the problems citizens in this area have".

Regional row

The mayor said he had acted after an incident involving a group of mayors and Lazio regional governor Renata Polverini.

According to Mr Bambini, when a delegation of Lazio mayors affected by the cuts requested a meeting with Ms Polverini in late September, they were prevented from entering the regional headquarters and the Italian military police, the carabinieri, were called.

The mayors were later seen individually by the regional governor, he added.

Acquapendente's mayor has also threatened to request the town's annexation by the nearby Umbria region, because he believes Rome absorbs all the resources of the Lazio area.

Reports say Lazio has the biggest deficit in its health care budget in Italy.

While Italy's health care is respected worldwide, the government has had to cut its public budget considerably in the wake of the financial crisis.

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