Alberto Fernández fell ill with gastritis on Tuesday during his trip to Indonesia for the G20 Leaders Summit, briefly losing consciousness and subsequently receiving treatment at the Sanglah General Hospital in Bali.
The health complications forced Argentina’s president to miss part of the G20 summit, with Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero deputising in his place.
Fernández reported feeling dizzy and briefly fainted in what sources in his entourage described as a “complicated episode.”
“He bled a lot and that caused his decompensation," they added in comments repeated in multiple local outlets.
After receiving treatment at the Sanglah General Hospital for around six hours (including waiting time for test results), the president later returned to work to attend a key bilateral meeting with Chinese premier Xi Jingping.
A statement issued later on Tuesday by the presidential medical unit said that Fernández is "in good health" after receiving medical treatment. He "suffered an episode of hypotension and dizziness" which, after being evaluated by his medical team, turned out to be "erosive gastritis with signs of bleeding," the Presidency confirmed.
He received “the appropriate medical treatment and is in good health, resuming his activities under medical supervision," it added.
The president remained under observation for four hours, accompanied by Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Argentina’s Presidential Spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti, Secretary General to the Presidency Julio Vitobello, and a member of the presidential medical unit, Dr. Manuel Estigarribia.
Temperatures in Bali are at almost 30 degrees Celsius with very high humidity. The president is also known to be on a strict diet, part of an attempt to lower his weight.
The president is understood to have been keen to return to work, with the meeting with Xi seen as the top priority. He is also due to meet International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday, as well as attend the Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership Event, a separate invite-only meeeting hosted by US President Joe Biden.
The brief spell of indisposition did mean that Fernández, the only Latin American leader present in Bali, was replaced in the first round of G20 sessions by Cafiero, who also attended the G20 Leaders lunch in the president’s stead.
In the first session, devoted to food and energy security, Cafiero urged the bloc's members to "recover peace and contribute to global recovery."
With Argentina’s runaway inflation rate currently at 66 percent and it forecast to reach 100 percent by the end of the year, the minister stressed that "the effects of the war" in Ukraine are felt all over the world.
Cafiero declared that conflict had already cost Argentina some US$5 billion.
"In the northern hemisphere the merchants of death negotiate lethal weapons, but in the southern hemisphere food becomes more expensive or is lacking, and what ends up killing are not bullets or missiles, but poverty and hunger," the minister declared. "It is imperative that we join forces so that the parties involved return to the negotiating table.”
Standing in for Fernández, Cafiero stressed the negative impact of the war on Latin America, which has already been deeply affected by the pandemic and, according to the CELAC regional bloc, recorded its worst setback in poverty levels for 27 years.
"Latin America and the Caribbean became the region in the world that lost the most years in life expectancy. Now we must face the effects of war," he said.
Although the invasion of Ukraine was not officially on the agenda, the issue took centre stage at the start of the international summit, with multiple nations urging an end to hostilities.