Argentina Reaches the Lowest Infant Mortality Rates in its History
Argentina’s Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti announced from Casa Rosada on Monday, Feb 6th that recent statistics show an average mortality rate of 8 children per one thousand before the age of one, a significant drop from 9.2 per thousand registered just two years earlier, making it the lowest infant mortality rate ever recorded in the country. The drop in infant mortality rates occurred even during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is what having a State that is present is all about,” declared the Minister.
Alcanzamos el número más bajo de mortalidad infantil de nuestra historia ??
Es un orgullo anunciar que Argentina volvió a la tendencia de reducción de un punto porcentual y alcanzó el mínimo histórico en este indicador. De esto se trata tener un Estado presente ? pic.twitter.com/H1Wxejc3rD
— Carla Vizzotti (@carlavizzotti) February 6, 2023
The announcement was made following a meeting of the Federal Health Council (Consejo Federal de Salud – COFESA) integrated by the health ministers of each province and presided by Vizzotti. The minister was quick to give credit to the government policies implemented during Alberto Fernandez´s administration: “The 1000 day plan, with a federal conception, is key to explain this great news. We worked to reach more equity in access to Health,” she tweeted.
Health Vice Minister Sandra Tirado explained to Latina Republic that every year, information is published by the DEIS (Department of statistics and information) disclosing various statistics regarding births and deaths pertaining to different population categories.
One of these is the number of infant deaths between birth up to their first year of age. Most countries in the world keep this data updated and it is gathered and analyzed by the World Health Organization.
The Plan 1000 días, or One-thousand-day Plan is granted via Argentina’s national social security system, ANSES. It consists of a package of public policies that benefit women during their pregnancy and their children, from birth through 3 years of age.
The Plan 1000 días is a strategic policy of Argentina’s National State whose objective is to provide comprehensive health care and care during pregnancy and early childhood.
The plan recognizes the gestation, birth, upbringing and care of children as a public responsibility, committing the different areas and levels of government in a joint action and under a comprehensive plan.
The program is aimed at low-income families and seeks to guarantee integral care during a child’s early years. It provides direct payments, food, vaccines and medicine to pregnant women and their children. Families receive a monthly provision of milk and other foods, regular checkups and the necessary vaccination scheme.
This assistance came in hand with the sanction of another groundbreaking law which gave women the right to interrupt a pregnancy (IVE: interrupción voluntaria del embarazo). “By providing financial assistance during the entire pregnancy through monthly payments and then annually for children up to the age of three, the 1,000-Day Plan aims to offer low-income women more opportunities to choose between abortion and going forward with a pregnancy,” explains Tirado.
Tirado also detailed that there are two main components to the Infant Mortality Rate and each is tackled by different strategies. One is related to the first month of life, where premature births, congenital malformations and neonatal care play a heavy role. The other component relates to the first year of life where other factors are involved, such as access to drinking water, vaccines, and health controls. The challenge to lowering this index is improving the first component.
The disclosed survey also showed a drop in the gap between the provinces with highest and lowest rates from 11.5 per thousand in 2020 to just seven in 2021. In total, 4,238 deaths were registered in 2021 a drop of 6% compared to 2020. The most important drop was among neonates. There are still 4 provinces within two-digit figures: Formosa (11.6), Corrientes (11.2), La Rioja (10.6) and Jujuy (10).
Decline in Adolescent Pregnancy
Another outstanding statistic announced was a decrease in adolescent pregnancy. A drop from 15.4 per thousand women between 10 and 19 in 2020 to 13.7 was registered for the following year.
The Ministry of Health credits the decline to the implementation strategies of public policies for the prevention of unintended pregnancy in adolescence and access to free contraceptive methods, especially long-term LARC (IUD and subdermal implants).
Decline in maternal deaths from abortion
Maternal deaths from abortion also decreased from 23 in 2020 to 13 in 2021. Law 27,610 on Access to the Interruption of Pregnancy (ILE/IVE) created conditions for access to safe abortion which contributed to a decrease in maternal mortality from abortion in the first year of implementation of the law. “The goal of maternal mortality from abortion is zero,” reported the Ministry of Health.
Maternal Death Rates, Impacted by COVID-19
On the downside, maternal deaths went up. The Ministry of Health reported that at the national level the maternal mortality ratio –( the relationship between deaths from maternal causes and the number of live births in a period) – increased from 4.1 per 10,000 live births in 2020, to 7.4 in 2021. The Ministry explains the increase as the result of “indirect obstetric causes,” including the outbreak of the pandemic caused by COVID-19.
Sueño Seguro Initiative
Today, the Ministry of Health is launching the acquisition of the first 14,000 kits as part of the Sueño Seguro (Safe Sleep) initiative of the 1,000-day Plan. The elaboration of the kits by the Federal Penitentiary Service, is part of the inter-ministerial work promoted by the national government of Argentina. The design and technical specifications were carried out by experts from INTI, from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism of the UBA, and from the Argentine Society of Pediatrics.
The first consignment of 14,000 kits, made up of a bassinet-crib, mattress, sheets, blankets, clothing and backpack, means an investment of 277,200,000 pesos by the national health portfolio and will be distributed to families of children from 0 to 6 months, among those who receive the Universal Child Allowance (AUH). In this initial delivery, distribution will be prioritized according to vulnerability and health risk criteria to reach the target population as production scales. The objective of this line of work is to reduce the rate of infant deaths at home, which represents 10% of total infant deaths.
Algunos jueces mandaron a quemar cunas, hoy tenemos un país que las construye y las distribuye. Gracias a políticas como esta, en 2021 alcanzamos la mortalidad infantil más baja de nuestra historia.
Si no nos ocupamos de nuestras niñas y niños, ¿de qué futuro estamos hablando? pic.twitter.com/hSot9yicrf
— Alberto Fernández (@alferdez) February 10, 2023
In view of the coming elections in October of the present year, the Frente de Todos administration is struggling with worrying poverty levels and inflation undermining Argentineans’ pockets. Reelection is seriously threatened. The remarkable work done by the Ministry of Health may be one of the main arguments for whoever takes the baton to convince voters to support them for another four years.
Born in Santa Fe, Argentina in 1971, Ramiro was exiled to the United States during Argentina’s last military dictatorship. He lived with his family in Minnesota until 1987. Once back in Argentina, he played in the lower divisions of the local soccer team. In 1997, he graduated as a bioengineer. In 2022, he graduated as a journalist. Currently, he offers training and remote technical support for medical equipment for GE Healthcare. He writes articles in English and Spanish as an independent journalist. Ramiro is a member of the Human Rights Group @HijaseHijosdel Exilio. He can be contacted at [email protected]; @ramiropozzo.