The First Lady of Healthcare

Yesterday we visited the Evita museum and museum restaurant. We learned a lot about a revolutionary First Lady in Argentina, and how she changed the game. We also got to see some her iconic dresses, personal effects and photos, and her lasting effect on Argentina government

This trip has been spent learning about healthcare, insurance, and the differences between the private and public delivery systems. When we went to the Evita museum, we were still learning about healthcare in a way. One of the healthcare applications that I found most interesting and relevant was that Evita founded the first nursing school in Argentina. This not only provided an increase in healthcare workers and the quality of care being delivered (because there was finally a standard for education and a formal curriculum) but became one of the first jobs for women. Until that point, nursing didn’t have much medical training at all, but the goal of the school was creating a healthcare professional that could be independent of a doctor if necessary. In addition, the main public health goals they had were treating acute illness that are prevalent in a developing country, such as STIs, TB, and infant deaths.

Between just pure curiosity about Eva and anticipation for this blog post, I did a little more research on Eva and her life’s work. I found the official Evita Perón website, and it thankfully had a specific healthcare section. This section was very interesting to me, especially the part that detailed her visits to hospitals. Eva and her husband knew that Argentina’s healthcare was substandard to other parts of the world and was especially inaccessible to the poor. They helped publicize healthcare, and they raised the standards for the quality of care that was supposed to be maintained. Eva made it her personal mission to make sure that hospitals were treating patients as they should, and she would make surprise visits to hospitals, even in the middle of the night. She would wear a disguise and wait as if she were patient, and interview patients in the hospitals. Another big project of theirs was setting up a “healthcare train”, that was loaded with equipment and medicines and journeyed through Argentina to take care of the poor.

Eva Perón changed the tide of healthcare in Argentina. Their legacies are both celebrated and mired with discontent depending on who you ask, but it’s irrefutable that they made progress while in office. It has been amazing to see what is being today currently in public hospitals, and then to be able to learn about the woman who arguably started it all.

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