Argentina | Semester Abroad | Public Health | Buenos Aires | Medical Spanish

Argentina: Public Health in Urban Environments

Examine the challenges surrounding public health policy and inequities as well as issues related to urban epidemiology in Buenos Aires.

This program provides students interested in public health, health sciences, development studies, and other disciplines with the opportunity to scrutinize health-related challenges in urban environments. The program is based at ISALUD University, Argentina’s primary academic institution for public and private health managers and stakeholders.

Major topics of study include:

  • Health system organization
  • The political process of defining a public health agenda
  • Social determinants of health
  • Intercultural barriers to quality care
  • Chronic diseases in urban environments
  • Health needs specific to urban environments

Studying in Buenos Aires

plaza in Buenos Aires

Each week, you will have lectures and intensive language instruction and visit academic institutions and community organizations engaged in health-related work. Buenos Aires is home to an impressive diversity of renowned institutions and highly engaged public and private actors working on health policy, research, delivery, and advocacy. You will meet with senior public officials — including at least one former health minister — and other relevant health policy actors to learn firsthand about health-related initiatives and current challenges.

The city and surrounding metropolitan region (Greater Buenos) is home to more than 30 percent of Argentina’s population. Within the region exist significant social and economic disparities and a range of health-related problems. These include the contamination of the Riachuelo basin in the city center as well as the presence of chronic diseases. It is a city of marked contrasts, where wealth and poverty coincide.

Program Partnership with ISALUD

Student group

Classes and other program activities take place at the headquarters of ISALUD, located in the city’s traditional San Telmo neighborhood. In addition to its role as a university, ISALUD serves as a think tank made up of many of the country’s top health policymakers; its graduates can be found in key roles related to health policy, practice, and advocacy throughout Argentina.

SIT students have their own meeting room on ISALUD’s campus and have access to ISALUD common facilities, including the university’s library and eating areas.

Spanish Language Instruction with a Focus on Public Health

The Spanish language course is designed to prepare you for successful daily interactions with lecturers, healthcare practitioners, and host families. Emphasis is placed on increasing language skills in areas related to the program theme: public health, community welfare, and epidemiology.

Language classes meet three times each week in small-group formats. The course incorporates in-class learning, roundtable discussions, oral presentations, field excursions, and group exercises.

Independent Study Project (ISP)

You will spend the final four weeks of the program engaged in an independent research project. Projects are conducted in Buenos Aires or another approved location in Argentina.

Engaging in primary research, you will critically examine a topic related to the program’s theme. Projects should demonstrate a synthesis of the various components of the program, and the project should contribute in some way to a greater understanding of public healthcare or the epidemiological profile in the context of Argentina. ISP advisors are recruited from the different educational and health organizations with which the program works.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Grassroots advocacy and healthcare services
  • AIDS policy and care
  • Public health consequences of environmental contamination
  • Gender and reproductive rights
  • Challenges to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals in Argentina
  • Healthcare among immigrant populations


Previous college-level coursework and/or other significant preparation in health sciences, political science, anthropology, sociology, or development studies, as assessed by SIT. Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework and assignments in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.

Access virtual library guide.

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Epidemiology and Social Determinants of Health – syllabus
(IPBH3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on Argentina's epidemiological profile. Students explore the relationship between urban environments and the health of city residents. While recent public health sector achievements have improved the living conditions of many urban dwellers, great inequalities and inequities in health still exist. Through readings, lectures, and educational site visits, students critically analyze contemporary health challenges as they relate to epidemiology and social determinants of health. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Health Systems, Policies and Programs – syllabus
(IPBH3005 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
In this seminar, students explore the emergence of healthcare systems and policies within Argentina's broader social, political, and economic history. Students examine healthcare at different scales of analysis, comparing and contrasting national, provincial, and local health systems as well as private, public, and socialized healthcare throughout the country. Students investigate firsthand the disparities of health and equity as they research alternative policies designed to reduce inequality. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Spanish for the Health Sciences I – syllabus
(SPAN2003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for the Health Sciences II – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for the Health Sciences III – syllabus
(SPAN3003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for the Health Sciences IV – syllabus coming soon
(SPAN3503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
In this course, students hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading professional health science literature as they learn the formal terms and local expressions needed to discuss health policy issues, to conduct field research, and to interact in settings (such as clinics, community associations, and government offices) related to the program themes. Students are placed in small classes based on an in-country evaluation that tests both written and oral proficiency.
Public Health Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(IPBH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This research methods course is designed to prepare students for an Independent Study Project or internship. Through lectures, readings, and field activities, students study and practice a range of methods appropriate for health-related research. They examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to health issues and medicine and are guided through the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review process, which forms a core component of the course. By the end of the course, students will have chosen a research topic or internship placement, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project or internship related to the program themes. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
Conducted in Buenos Aires or in another approved location appropriate to the project, the Independent Study Project offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program's thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. Sample topic areas: health problems associated with urban lifestyles, grassroots advocacy and healthcare services; AIDS policy and care; public health consequences of environmental contamination; gender and reproductive rights; challenges to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals in Argentina; healthcare access among immigrant populations.


Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.


Lunch with students in MondozaLocated in the foothills of the Andes, the city of Mendoza has been a forerunner in introducing universal coverage of contraception. Thus, the six-day excursion to Mendoza is focused on sexual and reproductive health.

You will learn how social and health services are delivered within low-income neighborhoods by shadowing different public sector professionals and visiting, alongside health promoters, families in different contexts.

You will also visit a social security health service and private health providers during this excursion. Discussions with staff will allow you to learn more about projects underway to make health services more readily available for people all over the city. During the visit, a debate session will be held, giving you the opportunity to discuss key healthcare issues with health sector stakeholders.

Dialogues with experts on Mendoza Province’s epidemiological profile and health and social policies are held at Universidad del Aconcagua. Students from the university’s School of Medicine will be assigned to mentor you and the rest of your group during your time in Mendoza.


Students volunteering with the Red Cross in Tucumán

Tucumán Province has been characterized as one of poorest provinces in the country.

Since the 2001 economic crisis, great efforts have been made to improve social and health services and to reduce infant mortality and malnutrition.

During this six-day excursion, you will learn how the provincial healthcare system is organized and how different governmental and nongovernmental institutions articulate their efforts to make infant and maternal health services available for more vulnerable populations. You will visit large maternal hospitals, polyclinics and primary care health centers where you will learn how different specialists interact in interdisciplinary health teams. You will explore both the complex and the primary social problems within Tucumán by observing and discussing the challenges that doctors, nurses, and social workers face every day in the field. You will also join the activities of Red Cross volunteers on a community project in a working-class neighborhood.

Dialogues with experts and government officials are held at Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, and you will attend classes on community health approaches with local social work students.

Florencio Varela

Angellelli Community Center in Florecio Varela. The center advocates for social rights.

Located in the Province of Buenos Aires, Florencio Varela is home to one of the most complex and modern Argentine public hospitals (El Cruce Hospital) and is an example of how an effective healthcare system works. During a three-day excursion, you will learn about the functioning of different complexity levels, from primary care to high-risk surgery, in health services.

You will visit local community service centers, second-level hospitals, and NGOs working on facilitating access to health services in poor environments. In El Cruce Hospital, you will observe medical work in a variety of specializations and meet the Ethical Review Board to learn about their work.

Lectures on the health system’s performance are held at Universidad Nacional Arturo Jauretche, where you will have the opportunity to join Argentine students in volunteering for healthcare-related educational activities such as attending workshops on sexual health targeted at adolescents and visiting educational centers to promote hand-washing as a sanitary measure.

Ana Rita Díaz-Muñoz, Academic Director

Ana Rita Diaz-Munoz

Ana Rita Díaz-Muñoz received her BA in sociology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Santiago, Chile, and an MA in social demography from the Universidad Nacional de Luján. Presently, Ms. Díaz-Muñoz is a PhD candidate at the University of Buenos Aires’ prestigious College of Social Sciences. She is also a researcher at the Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social (IDES) where she specializes in social, population, and health policy.

Ms. Díaz-Muñoz has been a professor at a number of universities, including the University of Buenos Aires, where she has taught in the School of Law’s family studies master’s program since 2000. She also has extensive experience working as a consultant for government and international agencies such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).

Her research has focused on poverty, social policy, and health systems reforms. She is the author of numerous books, academic articles, and technical reports. Currently, she is conducting research on the impact of social policies in reducing social inequality in early childhood. From 2003 to 2005, Ms. Díaz-Muñoz was a consultant for UNDP, evaluating projects for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in Argentina.

Ms. Díaz-Muñoz previously served as the academic director for the Argentina: Regional Integration, Development, and Social Change program. She joined SIT in the fall of 2005.

Valeria Lliubaroff, Program Assistant

Valeria LliuaroffValeria received her BA in anthropology from the University of Buenos Aires in 2014. Currently, she studies social policies for her master’s degree at the same university. She has been an educational coordinator working with young people in social clubs and schools since 2006 and holds a degree as a national recreational technician. In 2005, she had her own homestay experience in Troyes and Avignon, France. Valeria joined a community theater in 2011 and participates in art projects and recreational activities there. As program assistant, Valeria helps students with daily issues, manages program logistics, and assists the academic director in coordinating all program activities.

Yanina Reinoso, Homestay Coordinator

Yanina is an English teacher and studies political science at the University of Buenos Aires and music at the Popular Music School of Buenos Aires. She has worked as an English teacher for many years in different schools and at different levels. Currently, she teaches in the Cecilia Grierson Nursing School of Buenos Aires. In 2002–2003 she was an exchange student in Lindesberg, Sweden, in a cultural program promoted by AFS (American Field Service). When she returned to Argentina she worked as a volunteer for the AFS hosting program. This experience is key to her role in the program. Yanina works with students and families to facilitate the homestay experience and to assist the academic director in managing student affairs in country.

Faculty and lecturers typically include:

Ernesto Cussianovich, MA

Mr. Cussianovich directs the thematic seminar module on Argentine history. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Buenos Aires and has completed postgraduate studies in the UK and Spain. He holds a master’s degree in economic history from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a certificate in management of nonprofit organizations from the University of San Pablo CEU, Madrid. He is currently a professor at Torcuato Di Tella University, teaching courses on Argentine history and a seminar on the origins and evolution of the Peronist movement. Additionally, Mr. Cussianovich teaches a seminar on budget and taxation in the Public Policy Department at Torcuato Di Tella University. His current research is in the area of Argentine economic history with a focus on fiscal history and taxation. He has also worked as a teacher and researcher at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and as manager of governance and society at the British Council.

Martin Langsam

Mr. Langsam is secretary of ISALUD University’s Science and Technology Unit and teaches the thematic seminar module on health system organization and programs. Mr. Langsam holds a master’s degree in political science from Di Tella University, Buenos Aires; has completed postgraduate studies on the economy and public policies; and is a doctoral candidate at Oxford University, United Kingdom. In his position at ISALUD University, he is in charge of design, coordination, and evaluation of the university’s research activities. He also teaches and conducts research. Mr. Langsam has been an analyst for the Economy Ministry’s project on assessment of social expenditure and the evaluation of social policy impact.

Oscar Cetrángolo

Mr. Cetrángolo is an economist, holding a master’s degree in development studies from the University of Sussex, UK. He is currently in charge of the program’s module Health System and Equity. Mr. Cetrángolo is the director of the Master of Economics program at the University of Buenos Aires, a professor of public finance at the same university, and a researcher with the Interdisciplinary Institute of Political Economy (IIEP) at the University of Buenos Aires-National University of Tres de Febrero. Previously, he worked at ECLAC (UN) as an expert in public policy and has held different positions in the public sector (Central Bank, Planning Secretariat, Budget Secretariat, and Fiscal Incomes Secretariat). Between 1999 and 2001, he was appointed to the position of undersecretary at the Ministry of Economy. Mr. Cetrángolo also has worked as a consultant for different international organizations (ILO, PAHO, IADB, and UNDP) and has published several books and academic articles on public policies primarily related to the issues of taxation, fiscal federalism, health, and education.

Dr. Mariana Romero

Dr. Mariana Romero is a researcher in sexual and reproductive health based at CEDES (Center for the Study of State and Society) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she has been a researcher for 15 years. Originally trained as an MD in Argentina, she received an MSc in reproductive health in Mexico in 1993 and has since been active in the field. Her focus has been on abortion, maternal morbidity and mortality, and quality of care, mostly in the Latin American region. One of the founders of CLACAI (Latin American Consortium against Unsafe Abortion), she is recognized as an advocate and resourceful member of the academic community for research and training.

Maria Eugenia Royer

Ms. Royer holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and a master’s degree in health systems and social security from ISALUD. She has completed postgraduate studies on health services administration and has served as the head of the Department of Statistical Analysis in the City of Buenos Aires’ Ministry of Health, working on the design and coordination of primary healthcare systems. Ms. Royer is the author of numerous academic works that analyze and characterize the epidemiological profile of the users of the government’s healthcare system as well as more general epidemiological and demographic studies. She has been an associate professor in epidemiology and demography at ISALUD since 1999 and has also been a professor at various universities and local institutions.

Natalia Jorgensen

Ms. Jorgensen is an economist with a master’s degree in economics from the Universidad de San Andrés and a master’s degree in industrial economics from the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid. She has held positions as a researcher in Argentina and Spain, looking at issues of cost effectiveness and has also worked on analyzing health and disease econometrically. In Spain, Natalia studied issues related to immigration and health, and she developed estimation models of demand for healthcare. At the international level, she has participated in consultation projects with the European Commission and has participated in conferences and seminars. Currently, Ms. Jorgensen works as a professor and researcher at ISALUD, where she analyzes the cost effectiveness of programs related to neglected tropical diseases as well as the determinants of obesity in Argentina.

Ignacio Llovet, PhD

Dr. Llovet is in charge of the Problem Based Learning module for the program. He holds a BA in sociology from the Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires; an MA in social sciences from FLACSO, Quito, Ecuador; and a PhD in sociology from the University of Toronto, Canada. Ignacio is a full professor at Universidad Nacional de Luján, where he teaches sociology and research methodology. His main areas of interest are sociology of health, rural studies, and development. During the last seven years, Dr. Llovet’s research has focused on the social dimensions of Chagas disease, a disease transmitted by infected insects. Ignacio has been granted funds from several institutions such as the Ford Foundation, the World Health Organization, the International Development Research Center, the Ministerio de Salud de la Nación Argentina, and the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas to carry out his studies. Besides his academic activity, Dr. Llovet has also done consulting work for various agencies, including the World Bank, the University of Miami, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. A recent sample of his work is Mitigating Social and Health Inequities: Community Participation and Chagas Disease in Rural Argentina, published in the journal Global Public Health.

Graciela Dinardi

Graciela Dinardi holds a master of arts in sociology from the University of Toronto, Canada, and received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Currently, she is a professor at the graduate school of the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero and is conducting research on social aspects of Chagas disease in endemic areas of Argentina. She is also researching knowledge translation and conducting a study on health and wellbeing. Recently, she co-authored a book on the culture and organization of blood donation. Mrs. Dinardi has received grants and scholarships from the IDRC-Canada-Latin America and the Caribbean Research Exchange Grants (LACREG); the Ministry of Health-Programa VIGI+A; the Ministry of Economy-UNDP; UNFPA-Ford Foundation; the International Council for Canadian Studies Grant (Ottawa, Canada); and the Connaught Scholarship, University of Toronto, Canada.

Teresa Poccioni

Ms. Poccioni holds a degree in social communication, with a specialty in the methodology of scientific research and investigation. She is the assistant director of the Instituto de Ciencias de la Salud de la Universidad Nacional Arturo Jauretche (UNAJ), the academic secretary and a professor of the communication and health specialization at Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP), a professor of communication and health of the bachelor’s program in nursing at UNAJ, and a professor of social communication at UNLP. Among other activities, Ms. Poccioni has coordinated social communication between various programs and has conducted courses and training for staff at public hospitals. She coordinates SIT’s program activities in Florencio Varela.

Ana María Andía

Ms. Andía is a biochemist with the Universidad Nacional de San Luis. She specializes in public policy, and the formulation and evaluation of projects for the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. She holds a master’s degree in public health from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and is the author of numerous articles and chapters on issues of health and sexual and reproductive rights. Ana María works with the Ministry of Health of Mendoza and is a professor at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba and the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. From 2000 to 2007, she worked as the head of the Reproductive Health Program in Mendoza Province, and she has also held roles in research, management, teaching, and technical assistance with CONICET, Universidad Nacional de San Luis, UTN, Consejo Nacional de la Mujer, Ministerio de Salud de la Nación, the Legislature and Municipality of Mendoza, and the governments of Santa Fe, Catamarca, and La Rioja.

Leticia Krsul

Mrs. Krsul coordinates and teaches language courses and is a language professor from Pontificial Catholic University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. From 2001 to 2006, she held the position of academic coordinator at the Spanish Language for Foreigners at the University of Buenos Aires Language Laboratory. Her extensive professional experience in the area of Spanish as a second language includes work at academic and corporate institutions. In her role with the program, Mrs. Krsul is in charge of language level assessment, coordinating activities, and evaluating students’ performance as well as preparing educational materials and monitoring extracurricular language activities.

The homestay in Buenos Aires begins during orientation and continues throughout the semester. During excursions, you will stay in other accommodations, such as small hotels or hostels.

student with homestay brotherYou will live with an Argentine host family for 12 weeks. Host families come from different social and cultural backgrounds and are situated in various neighborhoods around the city (such as Almagro, Caballito, Monserrat, Barracas) and/or the Buenos Aires greater metropolitan area, such as the city of Avellaneda (20 minutes by bus to ISALUD). All homestay sites have good access to ISALUD University. Some host families have students attending the university.

Living with a host family gives you an excellent opportunity to practice your Spanish and partake in daily life in a local neighborhood.

A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.

Alumni of this program are currently:

  • working in health services for immigrant populations, public health, and health research.
  • in a PhD program, implementing a program of “narrative medicine” in La Paz, Bolivia.
  • conducting research as a Fulbright scholar in Mexico.

Program Dates: Spring 2017

Program Arrival Date:  Feb 21, 2017

Program Departure Date:    Jun 5, 2017

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Nov 3, 2016

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $16,085

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Health systems from historical, social, and economic perspectives
    • Comparative approach to health systems and recent trends
    • The organization of Argentina’s health system and its functioning at different levels
    • Social determinants of health in urban environments
    • Argentina’s epidemiological profile
  • Seminar on Public Health Research Methods and Ethics
  • Intensive language instruction in Spanish (with a focus on medical Spanish)
  • All educational excursions to locations such as northeastern Argentina, including all related travel costs
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food) 
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period 

Room & Board: $3,890

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Buenos Aires), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay. 
  • The homestay (12 weeks in Buenos Aires)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.  

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 50

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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