Argentina is confronting “clear inequities” as reflected by the incidence of “avoidable” maternal deaths during childbirth, the frequency of abortion among poor women and the concentration of new HIV infections in the most marginalized sector of the population, according to a U.N. report presented this week.
Despite the country’s great economic growth since the collapse it suffered at the end of 2001, inequalities among provinces and class and gender disparities exist and are some of “the challenges to overcome,” said the study by the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA.
“The tragedy of maternal mortality – which stands at 4 per 10,000 live births – takes on its true dimension when one notes that it is, in large measure, avoidable,” UNFPA said.
The maternal mortality rate remains “relatively elevated in relation to the available health services in the country.”
The study, presented at the U.N. Information Centre in Buenos Aires, adds that complications from abortion over the past 15 years have remained the main cause of maternal deaths.
But given that induced abortion is illegal in Argentina, “its magnitude can only be estimated by indirect means,” which show that voluntary terminations of pregnancy oscillate between 372,000 and 522,000 per year.
Among the main victims are the teenage members of the population, the fertility rates for whom show “many disparities” when one compares Argentina’s impoverished north with the main urban centres.
Teenagers represent a quarter of the Argentine population, which was calculated to be about 40 million on the eve of this year’s census.
Twelve percent of Argentines between the ages of 13 and 17 are not in school and young people have few job opportunities, the study notes.
The report dedicates one section to Argentina’s estimated 120,000 AIDS sufferers, who are increasingly disadvantaged and poorly educated, a situation that indicates that “HIV is becoming a disease more typical of the lower socio-economic strata.”
The document also discusses other sectors that are confronting a “disadvantageous social situation,” like the indigenous peoples, who number more than 603,000 individuals and immigrants from other Latin American countries, who are mainly relegated to low-paying and often exploitative employment”.