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Medicina (Buenos Aires)

Print version ISSN 0025-7680


MIRASSOU, Cristina S.. Health system and aboriginal communities in the province of Formosa, Argentina. Medicina (B. Aires) [online]. 2013, vol.73, n.5, pp.453-456. ISSN 0025-7680.

The author comments her experience in the practice of medicine and public health among aborigines in Formosa, a long neglected province in northeast Argentina. Her experience goes through a span of 34 years, 11 in a small community in a far off region. The province has 530 162 inhabitants, 43 358 (6.5%) aborigines of the Wichí, Qom, and Pilagá ethnicities. Some particular public health problems of these aborigines are due to the great distance between communities and the regular medical assistance while others are related to cultural differences. The situation has gradually improved in the last 30 years due to government awareness in providing easy and close access to medical care, making the most of the abilities of local aborigines midwifes, teaching health assistants and conventional measures. The most apparent results are the decrease in infant mortality rates and the lower incidence of tuberculosis, with no deaths due to tuberculous meningitis since 1999. No less important was the opening of new opportunities for education and the teaching of both native and Spanish language in the schools retaining local customs. The changes have brought about new risks and challenges such as: traffic accidents involving youngsters riding motorcycles, alcoholism, obesity, diabetes (undiagnosed beforehand), high rate of adolescence pregnancy, and crisis of leadership within the communities.

Keywords : Public health; Social medicine; Indigenous peoples; Human resources; Formosa (Argentina).

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