Argentina’s drastic austerity measures puts lives at stake

This week (3 Aug 2018) Argentina’s President, Mauricio Macri, announced sweeping austerity measures. These cuts include slashing the budget for the national AIDS Program (NAP) in half and cutting the number of ministries including dissolving the Ministry of Health. Our partner, Fundación GEP, warns that lives are at risk if these decisions are not reversed.

The drastic measures follow an agreement between the Government of Argentina and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). If the cuts are carried out Fundación GEP believes access to medicines, supplies and sanitary care will become increasingly blocked, denying many people of their right to health.

Only twice in Argentina’s history has there been an absence of a Ministry of Health, both times during military dictatorships in 1955-1858 and between 1966-1970.

After the president’s announcement on Monday, the Head of the National AIDS Program, Sergio Maulen, resigned, stating the reason as the reduction in the budget allocated to purchase medicines and the uncertainty of the sustainability of treatment for people living with HIV and viral hepatitis. This is a situation that has been worsening since January 2018.

Lorena Di Giano, Executive Director of Fundación GEP, says: “It is unacceptable that public social achievements – such as the creation of a governmental institution to guarantee public health – are dismantled, disregarding peoples’ lives. Even worse when this is done in connivance with international institutions that seek economic and abusive corporative interests.”

It is unacceptable that the MoH is dismantled, disregarding peoples’ lives – Di Giano

Pablo García, Fundación GEP’s President, says: “This is not the first time Mauricio Macri´s administration has put our health at risk. We have mobilized several times to claim for our rights, since the government decided to interrupt the procurement of antiretrovirals in hospitals and healthcare centers.” 

We join Fundación GEP in demanding that Mauricio Macri reverses this decision. “Without health sovereignty and national public health policies we cannot guarantee the fulfilment of fundamental human rights,” says Di Giano.