Descendants of the Boats

Today was a more calm day to end the week, as we started the day a little later than usual. We started the day at the Austral campus in downtown Buenos Aires with a lecture from Dr. Guillermo Williams about the Ministry of Health, which is one of the topics we had yet to cover up to this point in the trip. Next, we had lunch at a place nearby before heading back to Austral to hear a lecture from Graciela Abarca about Argentina History and Culture, another thing we had not learned much about yet. We finished the day with a tour of the Immigration Museum, which was used to house around 3000 immigrants at a time between 1913-1953. In fact, 50% of  the population of Buenos Aires and 30% of the entire country of Argentina was from a foreign country in the early 1900s. It’s even a joke in the country that Argentinians are the descendants of boats because of their immigrant population.

One of the major topics we learned about today regarding Argentina and the Ministry of Health was the structure of the government. Argentina has a federal government system, consisting of the President, his ministers and the individual jurisdictions throughout each province and municipality. This makes Argentina a more autonomous government system that is not based around an overly authoritative central government system. While this may seem like a good thing – and it does have its positives for sure – it also has disadvantages and challenges that come with it.

As far as benefits of the federal system, like I stated before, it allows for an autonomous system, meaning provinces and municipalities have say in the laws and regulations that are utilized within their jurisdictions. Regulation of health services is an essential function of the state, as it allows them to establish guidelines for a region to abide by and therefore, function better as a whole. For example, in the healthcare system of Argentina, each jurisdiction is autonomous in establishing which professions and specialties are recognized by the specific province.

However, this autonomous federal system has its downsides. Going back to the previous example in which each jurisdiction can establish their own recognizable health services, this can create conflict for health workers who want to work in a different province than their current one. Because there are so many specific distinctions of nursing and physician degrees, for example, some provinces may accept some, but not all degrees in order to work in a certain profession, even though the requirements for the differing degrees may be the same. This creates a lot of conflict within the healthcare sector, because none of the professions are regulated equally in all jurisdictions. In this case, a more central system would be better for the functioning of the healthcare sector as a whole, because it would require every jurisdiction to have the same guidelines, rather than the federal system that is in place now.

Tomorrow we are headed to the region of Palermo to spend a day immersing in the culture, and I am excited to explore a new place within Buenos Aires in order to see the differences.

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