Today was another interesting day in Argentina. We started off the day by driving about an hour outside of Buenos Aires to to the municipality of El Tigre. Once we arrived, we got on a boat and rode down the river in the middle of El Tigre to a primary care center that is available to all of the islands within the municipality. What is unique about El Tigre is that it consists of a mainland with a majority comprised of islands, making it difficult for the health services to be delivered. Following our visit to the primary care center, we took the boat back to the mainland of El Tigre for lunch and a visit to an open market in the area. To finish off the day, we took a tour of Hospital Municipal Infantil de Tigre, which is a public hospital for women and children, providing maternity and pediatric care.
The public health care system of El Tigre is very impressive, especially regarding primary care compared to the rest of the public system of Argentina. Due to the vast spread of its islands, it would seem that it would be difficult to be successful. However, the various primary care centers throughout the islands allow the municipality to get basic healthcare to its citizens in a much more efficient way, since not everyone has the ability to travel to a main hospital, considering the river serves as the central expressway. In addition, the people are relatively wealthy, and it is a much smaller community compared to a city that has an enormous population such as Buenos Aires. Having a smaller region to cover definitely makes it easier to ensure that quality healthcare is provided to all people.
El Tigre focuses most of its healthcare upon primary care rather than on hospitals, as it serves as the first step towards preventative care. Furthermore, it receives a great deal of funding for the primary care centers, with 98% coming from the municipality and the other 2% coming from the provincial and national fund. These funds contribute to basically everything that is provided within the primary care centers, and it is free to all of the citizens of the municipality. This includes vaccines, salaries of workers and any other supplies that the center needs. People are available at all times for minor and preventative care, which makes it much more efficient than a hospital system. When a hospital is truly needed, they have a boat ambulance that is dispatched and then takes the patients to the hospital. In addition, they have an agreement between private and public primary care centers within El Tigre, allowing for equity and networking between all of the centers. This almost forces them to be successful because of the communication that is required to maintain this system.
Healthcare systems in Argentina ultimately depend on location and proper functioning. In a less densely populated area like El Tigre, the system overcomes the poverty that comes with it more easily than a highly populated area like Buenos Aires, making equitable healthcare much more efficient. In addition, systems saturated with hospitals are not always the best bet when it comes to what the community needs, because primary care should be the prominent provider within any healthcare system. El Tigre proves that public healthcare and a focus on primary care can be successful when it is well-developed and properly run.