Health surveillance for former asbestos exposed worker: a specific programme developed in an Italian region
Asbestos-related diseases usually have a long latency since first exposure and this legitimates a health surveillance programme addressed to asbestos workers after the cessation of their occupational exposure. After a brief history of health surveillance initiatives performed in Italy as well as in other countries, we describe a regional programme for former asbestos-exposed workers, focusing on organizational features. A regional group of experts defined its operational and economical aspects. The Regional Council supported the whole programme, making it free of charge for all subjects who fulfil the predefined enrolment criteria (being resident in the region, being younger than 80 years old with cessation of occupational asbestos exposure within the last 30 years). The programme activities are classified in two levels: a first level for a basic health evaluation and a second level for in-depth analyses. In order to guarantee an homogeneous delivery in the whole region, the programme has to be performed by public health services with a quality control of activities. The involvement of specific public health services and the cooperation of social stakeholders are expected to play a major role in overcoming still open critical issues, such as the lack of programme existence awareness and adhesion, the correct stratification of subjects for the follow-up, and the real homogeneous delivery of the health surveillance in whole region.