Argentina, a country about the size of Europe, has a population of approximately 30 million people. Over 80% of the inhabitants occupy the few large cities. About 12 million people live in the neighbourhood of the capital, Buenos Aires. Unlike many other South American countries, it has a large middle-class population and a well developed social infrastructure and industry. However, the country has been the subject of considerable political instability with many recent changes in government including several revolutions. These have resulted in many changes of leaders of institutions including senior members of the medical profession. Psychiatry has been particularly vulnerable because of its social identity and social function. As a consequence most of the leaders of psychiatric institutions and services, including the Professor of Psychiatry, have been dismissed from office following changes in government. This has greatly impeded the development of psychiatric services and academic psychiatry. Despite many natural resources, the political upheavals have resulted in a considerable weakening in the economy with inevitable consequences on the funding of health care and the universities and the creation of a large poverty trap for the most vulnerable.
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