Since the beginning of the pandemic, the official policy of all jurisdictions in health matters directed by the Ministry of Health of the Nation was basically to strengthen the health system with more ICU beds, to increase the number of health professionals in the province of Buenos Aires, which was seen as the “big problem” and organizing a quarantine with the closure of activities in the AMBA, a region that was considered the most “dangerous”. We also attended the presence of different medical specialists, whose advice was transformed into public policy.
The increase in ICU beds with or without respirators, training doctors to fill the positions of the new therapies, both in the public and private sectors, was significant, but it is not the only valid and possible response that the state can and has national.
The composition of the national health system, both at the state level (nation-province-municipality- State-managed social works- PAMI) and private (prepaid medicine-Union Social Security- mutual), with the consequent fragmentation and concentration of health resources in some regions of the country, do nothing more than aggravate a health policy whose outlook was short-term and which at no time assumed that the race was long.
Today with a very low level of tests and a very high level of positivity in them, with percentages close to 75%, which shows the very low number of tests and the null policy of tracking and prevention.
Already close to one million officially infected, reality indicates that Argentina is in search of herd immunity, just the opposite of what is stated by the government and an excuse for long quarantines.
However, playing everything to this card, with a system that is not in a position to successfully withstand a huge economic crisis, where especially the social security sector is going to lose a huge number of members who will have to be served by the public. Above all, when summer enters we can enter into a syndemic (the sum of more than one epidemic) when Dengue and Zika come into action in the north and center of our country. They must be paid enormous attention in the summer, since their symptoms could be confused with those of Covid-19.
It is very difficult for Argentina to experience a second wave, since due to the rate of infections and deaths that we live, it makes it difficult for there to be a dramatic growth close to herd immunity, as we are experiencing now.
However, herd immunity does not mean that there are no infections, but that these will be much lower and with a very low fatality rate. If the vaccine is added to that in the middle of next year, it is likely that the problem is very limited.
What the pandemic leaves in economic matters affects, and severely, the health system. To begin with, their supplies are imported. The loss of registered jobs is going to hurt social security and prepaid medicine. The prices of benefits have been well below costs and as an aggravating factor, there are no prospects that this situation will improve, at least in the short term.
That is why it is urgent to integrate the national health system, to distribute health resources equitably and make them accessible to an impoverished population. And prepare the country for future health threats, creating a National Health Agency, on the basis of PAMI and all state social works, adding the national, provincial and municipal health infrastructures, so that the high socioeconomic and Lives we pay for herd immunity are not in vain.
Martin Moyano Barro is a Health Consultant.