Today we heard two lectures: one about the Ministry of Health, and one about Argentinian culture. After these, we visited the Immigration Museum. I really enjoyed Argentina’s history because I knew very little about their history beforehand, and Argentina and the US have many parallels between their history and their current governments.
Argentina has a federal system of government, which means they have various provinces that are united by a central government. The provincial governments hold the most power as they make the majority of the decisions for their provinces. One challenge of this system when it comes to healthcare is that there may be inequities between the provinces’ quality of care given to their citizens. Some provinces are more wealthy than others, so the provinces that are poverty-stricken do not have the resources to provide adequate healthcare to everyone living in that province. There may be federal laws that require a certain level of care, but if there is not enough money to provide those services correctly, people will suffer. This problem can manifest in something as simple as access to hospitals. Buenos Aires has more hospitals than I can count, which is great for the 3 million people living in the city, but what about the other 40 million people living in Argentina? Rural areas, impoverished areas, and more remote areas like Patagonia, high-quality hospitals are hard to come by, and there are few community health centers that have proper equipment and staffing.
A major benefit of a federal system of government, for healthcare purposes, is that each province can focus on the specific needs for their own people. People living the Buenos Aires, a major city, may have different needs from people living in a majorly rural province. It seems contradictory, but creating a blanket care system for the entire country would not necessarily work well because of the vast differences in health concerns from province to province. This is what makes the problem of healthcare so difficult to solve: there are so many pros and cons to each type of system. The best solution, in my opinion, is to leave it to the provinces to decide on their own healthcare system, but make sure laws enforce a certain level of care, and provide funds to the provinces as it is needed for them to carry out this level of care. This may mean that some poorer provinces need a little more money at the beginning, in order to raise their level of care for their citizens, but in the long run it will benefit the entire country because Argentina as a whole will be a stronger, healthier country. If the citizens are sick, they cannot work, and the economy of the nation could suffer.
Tomorrow is a nice break from “class,” as we are visiting neighborhood of Palermo to tour the street art that this neighborhood is known for, and then we are going to an art museum! Check back to hear all about it.
*Picture shows a view of downtown Buenos Aires from the Immigration Museum.