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Argentina takes on chronic diseases with IDB support

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) today approved a $150 million loan to help Argentina reduce the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular events and other chronic ailments, with a special focus on people without health insurance.

“Preventing and properly managing chronic illnesses is one of top health challenges for Argentina as well as other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Mario Sánchez, the IDB’s team leader for the project. “In many instances these illnesses are preventable and reducing their rate reduces the burden on fiscal budgets and boosts economic growth, as well as helping the poorest citizens who are more prone to risk factors.”

In Latin America and the Caribbean chronic non-communicable diseases are the main cause of death. Argentina has managed to lower some risk factors such as tobacco use. Still, the population is physically less active and more overweight and obese than five years ago. One in ten adults in Argentina suffers from diabetes, and one in three has high cholesterol and a similar proportion suffers from hypertension.

In 2009, tumors and cardiovascular disease caused 46 percent of deaths and 29 percent of healthy life working years lost for Argentinians 70 years or younger.

Risk factors affect poorer and less educated people more. For example, 26 percent of high school graduates suffered from high blood pressure in 2009. The number jumps to 54 percent for those who have not finished high school.

Almost 80 percent of heart ailments, strokes and type II diabetes are considered preventable. The project supports the 2011-2016 Federal Health Plan being implemented by the Health Ministry (MINSAL), by expanding the number of clinics and health care centers, promoting access to essential medicines available in primary care networks, and consolidating health information systems.

The idea is to gather information on 4.5 million Argentines who do not have health care to better identify risk factors. In addition, the program expects to train 8.000 health professionals, carry out 93 million basic treatments and distribute 560,000 health kits, among other results.

The project seeks to contribute towards the government’s objective of lowering the rate of deaths due to cardiovascular disease by 16 percent between 2010 and 2016, to 180 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The government counterpart will contribute $50 million. The IDB credit is based on LIBOR and is to be paid back over 25 years, with a 42-month disbursement period and a 54-month grace period.