, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 343-354
Date: 19 Apr 2012

Genetic testing and services in Argentina

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Abstract

Argentina is a middle-income country with a population of 40 million people. The structure of morbidity and mortality approaches that of more developed nations, with congenital and genetic disorders contributing significantly to ill health. The health delivery system is mixed, with public, social security, and private sectors which together spend close to 10 % of the GNP. Health subsectors are decentralized at provincial and municipality levels, where health planning and financing occurs, leading to fragmentation, inefficiency, and inequities. There are about 41 clinical genetic units in major medical centers in large cities, staffed by about 120 clinical geneticists, although only a few units are fully comprehensive genetic centers. Duplications, deficiencies, and poor regionalization and coordination affect health care delivery in general and in genetics. Funding for genetic services is limited due to poor understanding and lack of political will on the part of health authorities. Recently, however, there have been some interesting initiatives by national and provincial ministries of health to improve genetic services delivery by increasing coordination and regionalization. At the same time, training in genetics of health professionals is occurring, particularly in primary health care, and registries of congenital defects are being put in place. These developments are occurring in conjunction with a new awareness by health authorities of the importance of genetics in health care and research, a heightened activism of patient organizations demanding services for neglected conditions, as well as of women movements for the right to safe abortion.