The Health in the Americas+ country profiles are based on the interagency indicators available as of the dates referenced. The sources are referenced in this table. In some cases, the values of the indicators may differ from the most recent data available in the country.
Environmental and social determinants of health
In 2000 the total population of Argentina was 37 070 774 inhabitants; by 2023 this figure had risen to 45 773 884, representing a 23.5% increase. Regarding the country’s demographic profile, in 2023 people over 65 years of age accounted for 12.1% of the total population, an increase of 2.3 percentage points compared to the year 2000. In 2023, there were 102. women per 100 men and 53 older people (65 years or older) per 100 children under 15 years of age, as can be seen in the country’s population pyramids, distributed by age group and sex (Figure 1). Considering the population between 15 and 64 years of age to be potentially active (i.e., potential participants in the labor force), this group represented 65.2% of the total population of the country in 2023 (29 847 464 people). When we add these figures to the potentially passive population (10 406 281 under 15 years of age and 5 520 140 over 65 years of age), the result is a dependency ratio of 53.4 potentially passive people per 100 potentially active people. This ratio was 61.1 in 2000.
Life expectancy at birth in 2023 was 78.0 years, higher than the average for the Region of the Americas and 4.1 years higher that in 2000.
Figure 1. Population pyramids of Argentina, years 2000 and 2023
Between 2001 and 2018, the average number of years of schooling in Argentina increased by 25.2%, reaching an average of 11.1 years in the latest year for which information is available. The unemployment rate in 2022 was 6.5%. Disaggregated by sex, the rate was 7.3% for women and 5.9% for men. The literacy rate was 99.5% in 2018. In men, this figure was 99.8%; in women, 99.2%. In addition, 37.3% of the population were below the national poverty line in 2021, a decrease from 30.3% in 2016. In 2020, 1.6% of the population was living in poverty, defined as the percentage of the population with an income of less than US$ 1.90 per day; this is below the regional average of 3%.
During the period 2000-2021, the country improved its score on the Human Development Index, with an increase of 8.1% (from a score of 0.779 to a score of 0.842); during the same period, the index rose 13.5% internationally and 9.4% in Latin America (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Human Development Index in the Region of the Americas, 2021
In 2020, public expenditure on health accounted for 6.62% of gross domestic product (GDP) (Figure 3) and 15.72% of total public expenditure, while out-of-pocket spending on health accounted for 24.21% of total health expenditure.
Figure 3. Domestic general government health expenditure as percentage of gross domestic product, 2020
In 2021, 87.2% of the population had an internet connection, representing a considerable increase from 2000, when 7.0% of the population had an internet connection.
Maternal and child health
Between 2000 and 2020, infant mortality in Argentina decreased from 16.6 to 8.4 deaths per 1000 live births, a decrease of 49.4% (Figure 4). The percentage of low-weight births (less than 2500 g) increased from 7.2% to 7.2% between 2000 and 2020, while exclusive breastfeeding in the child population up to 6 months of age was 32%, the same value as in 2012 (the latest year for which information is available).
Regarding the immunization strategy, measles vaccination coverage was 83.0% in 2022, a decrease of 8 percentage points from 2000.
The maternal mortality ratio for 2020 was estimated at 44.9 deaths per 100 000 live births, a reduction of 37.2% from the estimated value for 2000 (Figure 5). In relation to fertility, it is estimated that in 2023 women had an average of 1.9 children throughout their reproductive lives. In the specific case of adolescent fertility, there was a 44.7% decrease, from 66.5 live births per 1000 women aged 15 to 19 years in 2000 to 36.8 in 2023. In 2018, 99.5% of births were attended by skilled birth personnel.
Figure 4. Infant mortality per 1000 live births, 1995–2020
Figure 5. Maternal mortality per 100 000 live births, 2000–2020
In 2021, there were 26 new cases of tuberculosis per 100 000 population in Argentina. In 2019, the overall tuberculosis mortality rate (age-adjusted and per 100 000 population) was 1.3 (0.8 in women and 1.8 in men).
In 2020, the estimated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection incidence rate (new diagnoses) was 6.7 per 100 000 population. The age-adjusted mortality rate for HIV was 3.3 per 100 000 population in 2019. It should be noted that during the 2000-2019 period this indicator decreased by 31.0%.
In 2021, there was one reported case of human rabies in the country.
Noncommunicable diseases and risk factors
In Argentina in 2023, the prevalence of tobacco use among people aged 15 and older was 23.3%. In the same age group, the prevalence of overweight and obesity was 62.7% in 2016. Also in 2016, 41.6% of the population reported insufficient physical activity.
In 2015, the reported prevalence of arterial hypertension (high blood pressure) among people aged 18 years or older was 22.6%, a decrease of six percentage points compared to 2000 (28.6%). The prevalence of diabetes mellitus, which stood at 8.2% in 2000, increased to 9.7% in 2014.
In 2019, the adjusted rate of potentially preventable premature mortality in Argentina was 203 deaths per 100 000 population, a decrease of 27.1% compared to the rate of 278.4 in 2000. This meant that, in 2019, the rate in the country was 10.5% lower than the average rate reported for the Region of the Americas as a whole. Among potentially preventable premature deaths, the rate for preventable causes in 2019 was 112 per 100 000 population, 18.3% lower than the regional average rate, while the rate for treatable causes was 91 per 100 000 population, compared to a regional average of 89.6.
The overall age-adjusted mortality rate was 5.7 per 1000 population in 2019, a decrease of 15.1% compared to 2000 (6.8 deaths per 1000 population).
When deaths are categorized into three main groups, it is observed that, in 2019, the age-adjusted mortality rate from communicable diseases was 97.1 per 100 000 population (120.7 per 100 000 in men and 80.8 per 100 000 in women), while the age-adjusted mortality rate from noncommunicable diseases was 435.8 per 100 000 population (557.9 per 100 000 in men and 347.6 per 100 000 in women). The rate of age-adjusted mortality from external causes was 41.4 per 100 000 population (64.9 per 100 000 in men and 19.6 per 100 000 in women), including road traffic accidents (13.9 per 100 000 population), homicides (6.1 per 100 000 population) and suicides (8.1 per 100 000 population). In 2000, the percentage distribution of causes was 80.7% for noncommunicable diseases, 12.3% for communicable diseases, and 7% for external causes; in 2019, the percentages were 76.7%, 17.6%, and 5.7%, respectively (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Proportional mortality in Argentina, 2000 and 2019
Regarding cancer mortality from tumors, in 2019, the adjusted mortality rate from prostate cancer was 18.2 per 100 000 men; lung cancer, 30.5 per 100 000; and colorectal cancer, 20.1 per 100 000. In women, these values were 22.5 deaths per 100 000 for breast cancer, 14.6 per 100 000 for lung cancer, and 11.9 per 100 000 for colorectal cancer.
The health situation and the COVID-19 pandemic
In Argentina in 2020, there were a total of 1 677 741 cases of COVID-19, representing 37 057.2 per million population. In 2021, there were 4 121 856 identified cases, equivalent to 91 042 per million population, while in 2022, the number of reported cases was 3 898 166, equivalent to 86 101 cases per million population. In 2020, there were 48 337 deaths directly caused by COVID-19 in people diagnosed with the disease, or 1,068 per million population; in 2021, 118 213 deaths were reported, or 2611 per million, and 129 830 deaths in 2022, equivalent to 2867.6 deaths per million population. In 2020, Argentina ranked fourth in the Region of the Americas in terms of the number of deaths from COVID-19, third in 2021, and 34th in 2022, with a cumulative 2678.7 deaths per million population over the two years (Figure 7).
According to estimates by the World Health Organization, there were a total of 31 692 excess deaths in 2020, or 70 per 100 000 population; a total of 58 190 deaths were estimated in 2021, for an excess mortality rate of 128 per 100 000.
As of 31 December 2021, at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine had been given to 90.7% of the country's population. As of 20 April 2022 (latest available data), 82% of the population had completed the vaccination schedule. The vaccination campaign began on 20 December 2020, and seven types of COVID-19 vaccine have been used to date.
Figure 7. Cumulative COVID-19 deaths in the Region of the Americas, to July 29th, 2023
Measures to achieve universal health coverage
The Sumar Program has strengthened the nation’s strategic capacity to provide health services and has reached more than 20 million registered beneficiaries who have only public coverage, thus contributing to achieving universal health coverage.
In addition, the National Law on Comprehensive Health Care and Care during Pregnancy and Early Childhood, also known as the Thousand-day Plan (Law 27 611/2020), aims to protect, strengthen, and support comprehensive care for the life and health of pregnant people and of children during their first three years of life.
Lastly, the Remediar Program distributes essential medicines free of charge throughout the country, reaching several million beneficiaries.
Challenges related to population health
In view of the challenges that the country still faces, it is worth noting the redoubling of efforts aimed at advancing health system integration to reduce inequalities in access, quality, and equity; this effort must be carried out in a cross-cutting manner, bringing together the public and private health sectors, as well as the social security system.
In this regard, the following initiatives are currently being developed:
- The Argentine Comprehensive Health Services Plan, which covers all Argentines, structured by prioritized, protocol-based lines of care, allowing for more effective access and increased equity in health.
- A comprehensive health approach, which requires coordination among the subsectors of the health system.
- An integrated policy on essential and special medicines and health technologies.
- The integration of epidemiological information, management, and resource systems (material and human) for analysis and decision-making.
- Federal-level coordination and simultaneous advances in all the country's jurisdictions.
COVID-19 pandemic response
In the current epidemiological context, characterized by a decrease in the severity and lethality of COVID-19 cases, the importance of addressing the circulation of other respiratory viruses, and the need to ensure timely diagnosis and adequate care for the most vulnerable populations, it is essential to adopt a pandemic strategy that provides for timely and appropriate decision-making.
To this end, effective measures are being strengthened to prevent all acute viral respiratory infections such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and SARS CoV-2––an approach that is more effective than relying on etiological detection of COVID-19 in all cases. Public policymaking relies on the capacity to characterize the circulation of multiple agents, and on having a system capable of detecting changes in trends, severity, and other characteristics that call for additional or different measures.
For this new stage, continued efforts are being made to strengthen the health system to address, in a comprehensive manner, cases caused by all respiratory viruses, not only COVID-19; this includes diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance, hospital care, and outbreak control.
Similarly, continued efforts have been made to generate evidence for better decision-making and to advance the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, constituting the essential pillar for disease control, with a focus on achieving maximum vaccination coverage. This vaccination effort includes both administering the indicated doses in all age groups and implementation of new strategies, when justified by new evidence.
Measures to reduce inequalities in health
With a view to strengthening provincial health systems, three programs were developed: the Proteger Program, the Health Networks Program, and the Sumar Program. These programs work with some 9,000 health providers nationally. The Sumar Program has increased and improved the strategic purchasing capacity of health services, and currently reaches more than 20 million registered beneficiaries, who receive more than 690 prioritized health benefits, guaranteeing effective health coverage for the most vulnerable populations. The Proteger Program is aimed at addressing chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), while the Health Networks Program links integrated health services networks.
In addition, progress is continuing a project aimed at providing connectivity to difficult-to-access primary health care centers (PHCCs). As of the date of this publication, only 303 PHCCs had connectivity; this number is expected to increase by 1697 units, to a total of 2000 connected PHCCs, or half of all such centers nationwide.
Another important initiative involved the signing of various agreements with provincial jurisdictions to implement the Family and Community Health Program, which includes transferring resources to finance training scholarships, targeting community agents and members of primary care health (PHC) teams, and planning for the training of scholarship recipients. This program aims to standardize knowledge and good PHC practices, without losing sight of the particularities and specific needs of each jurisdiction. Similarly, the National Health Program for Indigenous Peoples is based on an intercultural approach and is aimed at financing PHC training grants for community agents among these populations, in order to ensure access to health care for these vulnerable groups.
Lastly, the Federal Plan for Reconstruction of the Health System has also been launched, with the objective of providing technical support to the ministerial strategy for the procurement of medical equipment, ambulances, and equipment, as well as for carrying out work in the various provincial jurisdictions, aimed at mitigating differences in access to high-complexity medical practices.
National strategy to address inequalities in health
All the centrally promoted strategies are designed to reduce inequalities in access, quality, and equity in health, precisely because, according to the country's regulations and government-implemented public policies, this is the primary role of the national health authority.
The National Quality Plan aims to improve quality of care and patient safety and is being carried out in both public and private facilities.
The Sumar Programme is responsible for directing income transfers to provinces with the lowest values in certain key indicators, such as life expectancy at birth and structural poverty, and allocates greater resources for services provided in rural health care centers.
In addition, the National Mental Health Plan has initiated a plan to offer a set of tools to various jurisdictions, based on the needs of each, with priority given to those with the
greatest challenges: the goal is to continue to reduce the gaps in people's access to mental health and addiction control services.
The PHC approach and the IMPULSA Program are designed specifically to reduce inequalities in access to first-level care and digital health, respectively.
Lastly, the National Action Plan to Combat Gender-Based Violence is designed to consolidate the rights of women and LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and intersex) people in the many jurisdictions where this goal has not yet been fully realized.