if there is something consensus among all public health experts is that the past pandemic severely affected multiple dimensions of health. And they explain that it was much more than the cases of infections and deaths from coronavirus or long covid. Actually, it hit everyone, even those who got through these years without getting sick. But how and how much did it affect the health of Argentines? A recent study carried out by a team of professionals from the Catholic University (ACU) puts some specific numbers to this deteriorating situation during 2022. For example, one in six Argentines stated that they “have enough health problems or suffer from a serious chronic illness.” And the worst thing is that prevention is also in crisis: 40.6% of those consulted confessed that “during 2022 there was no annual consultation with a doctor.”
He inform is called “Health status and access to medical care in urban Argentina in 2022” and was carried out by researchers from the Argentine Social Debt Observatory, who surveyed people from 5,800 households. Solange Rodriguez Espinolaone of the authors of the work, summarized PROFILE: “Among the parameters that most caught our attention is the ‘pandemic effect’ on annual check-ups with your GP. These, logically, fell. Thus, the UCA report shows that -in 2019- three out of ten adults reported not having done an annual consultation with a professional. Obviously, that number skyrocketed due to the social isolation of 2020 and with the covid as an exclusive issue. Thus, 2021 culminated in an enormous growth in the lack of periodic consultations, until reaching an impossible figure: seventy out of every hundred people did not see their GP.
“With the passage of time, the situation improved,” said the expert. “But the worrying thing is that, in 2022, we found that 40.6% of people did not get their checkup. In other words, our health continues to deteriorate and we have not even returned to the values prior to the health crisis,” said Rodríguez Espínola, who carried out the work together with the researchers. Maria Agustina Paternó Manavella and Francisco Lafferriere.
On the other hand, the professional from the UCA recalled that the consequences This situation of current neglect will be more noticeable in a few years, when there is an increase in the incidence of situations that could have been prevented or treated prematurely. And he clarified that this was not achieved only due to a lack of awareness on the part of the citizens, but also because the health system is collapsed and fails to give an adequate answer. This can be seen, among other things, in the delays in making appointments, a situation in which the one that went back to the past, since it stopped being by internet or cell phone and became personal.
On the other hand, the expert detected that the consequences of this situation of current neglect will be noticed in the future. And he stressed that those who consult the doctor the least are the youngest and poorest people. In fact, in the socioeconomically less favored classes, the lack of annual preventive consultation shoots up to 70% of the poor who affirm that they have not had annual check-ups. and also the gap widened by age.
Among the reasons that explain this situation of lack of annual controls, the difficulty in accessing health professionals stands out. One of the values that shows this worrying trend is the data that 20.2% of those surveyed reported having had to wait for an appointment with a specialist for at least more than two months. But when this parameter is crossed with the socioeconomic level, the situation worsens: in the medium-high level it decreases to one in ten people, but in the low level the wait triples and three out of ten people said they had to wait for the least 60 days before you can see a doctor.
Inequity in health care in the private and public system is also reflected: 67.4% of the poor resorted to public care. And among the people classified as “non-poor”, only 19.5% received care in a hospital or public ward.
In this same area, differences were also observed in the quality of care in the medical consultation according to health coverage. Thus, the affiliates of PAMI and those who only have public coverage, also affirmed have “poor quality of care and a wait of two months or more for the consultation”.
To reverse some of all this, the UCA professional proposes to improve prevention and awareness campaigns. Added to this is cutting red tape and facilitating access to professionals as much as possible. And, finally, stimulate the training and incorporation of human resources into the health system, from nurses to general practitioners and specialists.
Shuffle and deal again
For the public health specialist Ignatius Katz -academic director of the specialization in Strategic Management in Health Organizations at the National University of the Center-, in this matter the Argentine problem is very serious and also long-standing: it has been deteriorating for five decades: “Today we do ‘as if’ we had a health system,” he told PROFILE. For this expert, the only solution is adequate comprehensive planning, which tries to revert to this atomized system. This implies starting by creating a national health observatory capable of making an x-ray and current diagnosis of the system. From the medical resources available to the main diseases in the country. Then attach a territorial rearrangement in health issues by degree of complexity. All this must work with an oiled articulation in a network and, finally, achieve a new law that organizes the work of health professionals. With that and a long-term plan that is maintained and respected, a new federal health system could be developed. A renewed Cofesabody that brings together the ministers of health from all provinces.
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