The lectures and cultural visits of the day I found to be very interesting as they regarded topics I knew little about before arriving in Argentina. One of my personal interests is studying history so the cultural lesson of the day regarding immigration to the country was fascinating. To begin, we had the opportunity of attending a lecture in Austral’s downtown campus, only a few blocks away from where we are staying. The building is much older than the other campus, and the beautiful French architecture was noticeable. Dr. Guillermo Williams, who is a retired professional from the Ministry of Health, shared with us the development and processing of the organization, as this concept has seemed fairly confusing up to this point while we investigate different stakeholders and actors in the healthcare sector.
We learned that the Ministry of Health today actually has very little power. Due to the federalized system, similar to the United States, the central government and the federal Ministry of Health have almost no power. Instead, the provinces, like how our state governments function in America, operate most of the regulations and laws for their region, yet receive some funding from the federal entity, which also supports programs like vaccinations. This system creates challenges by causing the fragmentation and disparity throughout the 24 different provinces in Argentina, developing several regional conflicts. For example, we learned specifically about the education program in order to become a physician in Argentina, yet there are different regulations and requirements for each province, making a license only valid in certain areas to practice. The health and education systems seem very disconnected compared to that of the United States, as a degree signifies very little about competency and they are continually working to raise their standards of training and certification. With over 70 different types of degrees in health, there are only 27 available professions. With about 40 different types of training, there is only a result of 19 professionals. Physicians are much more common than nurses and compared to other countries they have a high doctor per capita rating.
I found the concept of migration interesting when related to the Ministry of Health. Most migrants come from Bolivia or Colombia with a total of about 8% of the population immigrants in the country to date. The challenge then becomes how to ensure equivalent training of physicians coming from different parts of the world. While there are special agreements with neighboring countries to fast track the ability to practice there, the federalized system makes this process much more difficult as each province is treated separately.
After lunch, there was another lecture by Garciela Abarca. I did not realize how complex the composition of the country is due to the great amount of immigration throughout their history. They are also known to be very accepting of migrants. In fact, in 1914, 30% of the population was comprised of immigrants. An interesting quote from Frona Adams says that Argentina is a nation of Italians, who speak Spanish, dress French, and think they are British. There is very little discrimination by the natives as they realize most people have a foreign heritage. The ruling of Juan and Eva Perón was another eye-opening period of their history, one that made Argentina the 6th richest nation for a time, that I learned so much about during this short lecture.
An hour later, we had the opportunity of touring an immigration hotel in Buenos Aires where millions of immigrants came to escape from distress in their home country and begin their new life in Argentina. While somewhat comparable to Ellis Island, the process of becoming a legal citizen here seemed much easier and the offerings at the hotel were much nicer, such as hot water and hospital service. It was very inspirational to see how all these different cultures could come together and form a community for a new opportunity and Argentina dream. Argentina, being underdeveloped at the time, had many opportunities to easily integrate compared to industrial America.
Argentine culture is so unique making it intriguing to study. As an ongoing joke goes, “Mexicans come from the Aztecs, Peruvians come from the Incas, but Argentineans, they come from the ship.”