Chapter 7: Culture, History, and the MoH

Today there were no long bus trips, everything that we did was relatively close to the spot we are staying in Recoletta. After a later start than usual, we headed to the University of Austral Buenos Aires campus where we were lectured on the role of the ministry of health, from a previous ministry of health representative Dr. Guillermo Williams, and were also taught about the translation of educational degrees between the provinces, and more general information about the health system. After a quick lunch we headed back to Austral to get a lesson on Argentina’s culture, and soon after were went to the immigration museum, similar to Ellis Island in the United States.

Our first lecture, which primarily served as an information session on the ministry of health, gave the group better insight into what exactly the ministry of health does and how it is split up. Upon introduction of the ministry Dr. Williams informed that group that while he has not worked at the ministry in over a year, since his leave the ministry has been named a secretariat. This title means that the ministry has no minister to represent their ministry, but they still hold the same responsibilities. This being said, Dr. Williams expressed his opinion to say that he believed this change was detrimental to the power they hold, and ultimately their image. The current role of the ministry of health despite any change in power is to provide regulation among the provinces, but also one of the main jobs that they hold is in their vaccination distribution. While these regulations are made as an attempt to keep the standard of each medical facility up to a certain standard, the ministry of health is not capable of making decisions for the health systems within these provinces. These decisions regard where they utilize their financial resources and what they try to improve, yet the ministry takes strives to influence each province or assert even a small influence through this regulation. This assigned power that each province gets, we assume, is a part of Argentina’s a federal system. One of the biggest challenges however that comes with individual powers given to each province is the presence of fragmentation among the implementation of systems, and a point that Dr. Williams emphasized tremendously today, is the inconsistencies among the training and schooling of professionals in the medical industry. While Dr. Williams did talk about ways in which the country is trying to reduce this fragmentation, it is apparent that certain provinces lack of participation in the trends of the system provide problems in consistency. Regulation is the only hope to gain some sort of standardization among the provinces.  

Although the freedom to make decisions creates fragmentation, it gives the provinces the freedom to create policies that best suit their needs. There is an evident dispersion of need across different parts of the country, and to create one wholistic system would not fully meet the needs of all individuals or provide unnecessary services in some cases. These differences in policy make the biggest difference when you talk about things such as the inconsistency of medical professional training as discussed above, but regulations are put in place to ensure that medical protocols and standards are met. This leads us to assume that while some provinces do not utilize the recommendations given by the ministry of health, the regulations ensure that their care is up to par with a certain level. In regard to the benefits of a federal system that more closely associated with other policies, it is essential that the province is given individualized power to ensure that its citizen’s community participation can be improved, and as stated above, the needs of the people can be effectively met.

Today answered some of the questioned that I had about the ministry of health, but it also gave me a better understanding about Argentine culture. The role of the federal system, as described to us by Dr. Guillermo Williams, is a way to escape the uniformity of a single overpowering government. On the topic of health, it is evident that often times fragmentation occurs among the provinces, but the hope is that the regulations demanded by the ministry of health create a standard to be met by all the provinces health systems.

A view of the city from a window inside the Immigration museum

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