Rome: A village in southern Italy’s Calabria region has forbidden people from falling sick as a solution to the problem of its dwindling and ageing population, a media report said.

Davide Zicchinella, the mayor of Sellia town, signed the decree which stated “it is forbidden to get sick in the town”.

The decree comes as part of Zicchinella’s bid to save the town from extinction, by incentivising residents to take care of their health.

The decree called on all 537 of the town’s citizens to “put your health first and look after your nearest and dearest.”

It also encourages citizens to go to a new medical centre which opened last month for regular check-ups. Those who visit the centre will be exempted from an annual health tax of 10 euros (about $10).

Since the centre opened, over 100 citizens have fixed an appointment to ensure they were in good condition, a result which has elated Mayor Zecchinella, who is also a doctor by profession.

“Our citizens response has been more than encouraging. It’s a result that embraces the spirit of this initiative,” the mayor said.

In 1960, the town had 1,300 citizens, but currently just 537 remain and six in 10 citizens are over 65.

But Sellia is just one of many small Italian towns that risks disappearing. Italy has one of the oldest populations on the world, with over 20 percent aged over 65.

Fewer Italians are having children, and the country’s population growth is almost at zero, according to the most recent figures from Istat, the national statistics agency.

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