In the field of health and medical care, Argentina compares favorably with other Latin American countries. National health policy is determined by the Department of Public Health, an agency of the Ministry of Social Welfare. In 1998 Argentina had an estimated 108,800 physicians, 28,900 dentists, 15,300 pharmacists, 29,000 nurses, and 11,100 medical technicians. There were an estimated 2.7 doctors per 1,000 people as of 1999. Nutritional requirements are comfortably met and, in 2000, 79% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 85% had adequate sanitation. Health and medical services for workers are provided by clinics of unions, and employers are usually required to provide free medical and pharmaceutical care for injured workers. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 8.4% of GDP as of 1999. In Argentina the private sector plays a role in the provision of health services, ensuring social security through organizations called Obras Sociales. Funding for health services comes from employee payroll taxes and contributions.
In 2000, the infant mortality rate was 17 per 1,000 live births. As of 1999, an estimated 7% of all births were classified as low birth weight. Between 1980 and 1993, 74% of married women (ages 15–49) used contraception.
Of the major infectious diseases, smallpox, malaria, and diphtheria have been virtually eliminated and poliomyelitis has been greatly reduced. The incidence of tuberculosis in 1999 was 55 per 100,000 people, down 47% from 20 years earlier. In the same year, one-year-old children were immunized against the following diseases: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 88%; and measles, 99%. Life expectancy averaged 75 years (79 years for females and 71 years for males) in 1999. As of 1998 maternal mortality was estimated at 38 per 100,000 live births. The overall death rate in 1999 was 7.6 per 1,000 people. The HIV rate was0.69 per 100 adults in 1999, when a total of 130,000 people were infected. Argentina reported the second-highest incidence of AIDS cases (41 per million) in South America during the mid-1990s. HIV spread rapidly throughout Argentina via intravenous drug use soon after the first cases of HIV infection were reported. By the end of the year 2000, a total of 18,824 cases of AIDS had been reported in the country.