Skip to main content

Providing those most in need with quality, free healthcare

How two organisations came up with an innovative way to provide free healthcare to those most difficult to reach.


Healthcare is a right for all. That's the belief of the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Isola Tiberina hospital, which work to help the lives of people in need. As health inequality has been rising, the two organisations wondered how they could provide free and quality care to the most difficult to reach. Find out more about one of this year’s stories that made a real impact.


Teaming up with Deloitte Italy and the Italian Deloitte Foundation, Sant’Egidio and the hospital have developed a service that aims to provide medical assistance to 1,000 patients every year.

Lula, an Eritrean woman, is one of the people Sant’Egidio has helped. She arrived to Italy with her baby girl thanks to the Humanitarian Corridors – a self-financed project implemented by Sant’Egidio since 2016 – with her husband after a long time. When she was pregnant, she asked her friends of Sant'Egidio for help. She was very happy to find a doctor to support her pregnancy.

She wouldn't have known where to turn had it not been for the San Bartolomeo project, a new scheme providing access to free healthcare for those on the fringes of society.

In offering these services, Sant’Egidio has been driven by the belief that everyone is entitled to access the healthcare they need.

Accessing quality medical services

The San Bartolomeo project provides gynaecology, obstetrics, senology (a medical specialty focused on the study of breast diseases), and dentistry clinics, to groups such as refugees, migrants, women, children and homeless people, who might otherwise struggle to access healthcare.

Despite only being at pilot phase, the project has so far helped 260 people from more than 40 countries. For some, it's the first time they've accessed healthcare, with many patients coming from countries affected by deep social inequalities.

For Lula, the project means she can now have continuous check-ups, which she had not been able to access during her first pregnancy.

"Compared to how Lula felt before she had access to the service, she now feels protected."

Silvia Profeti
Manager, Deloitte Italy’s Consulting Team and Deloitte Italy Public Policy Programme

Tackling healthcare inequality

In Italy, like many countries, the long-term effects of the pandemic have resulted in external pressures on the health system. This adds to the challenge of providing timely care. Those who can afford it often pay for treatment. However, this still leaves those without means waiting months to be seen, increasing health inequality.

By working with a private hospital, that collaborates with the national health system, the project removes some of the burden for the health service and helps those most in need.

"It’s very nice to see the potential of a collaboration between the for-profit and non-profit sectors,” Silvia says.

Working pro bono, Deloitte Italy’s consultants helped identify the priority care needs, and designed the booking process and delivery model.

Building national momentum

They are now monitoring the results of the clinics, as well as the patient’s satisfaction, to understand how the project can be rolled out further, with hopes to make other services available in future.

Deloitte is also playing a pivotal role in supporting the hospital and Sant’Egidio to promote the project, engaging other stakeholders. This includes public and private sector bodies, to amplify the project's reach, meaning that more people can get the healthcare they need.

The team hopes the San Bartolomeo project will become a national best practice, contributing to Deloitte's commitment to promote health equity and tackle social disparities.

Silvia says it was touching to hear how the project has helped Lula.

"It feels amazing," she says. "In this project you can really see how the private sector can use these competencies and instruments to help society and to create an impact.

"Day-to-day, you don't always realise the impact of the work. But when I listened to interviews with the people that are benefiting, I realised what we’d created was really powerful."

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve further, please complete a 3-minute survey