The South American Health Council (SHC), created on December 16th, 2008, is a permanent council composed of Ministers from UNASUR member countries. This body was created in order to constitute a space of integration concerning health, incorporating efforts and improvements from other mechanisms of regional integration, such as MERCOSUR, ORAS CONHU and ACTO, to promote common policies and coordinated activities among member countries. It is also a consultation and consensus body concerning health, which intends to delve deeply into relevant themes and strengthen public policies aimed at improving the living conditions of the inhabitants of the South American continent.

Since health is an essential right to all human beings and all societies, and it is also a vital component for the development of mankind, the Health Council seeks political and social acceptance regarding the issue, proposing health to be seen as an important booster of cooperation and integration of the bloc’s nations, intensifying the coordination of such nations and respecting diversity and interculturalism in the region.

The Health Council aims to strengthen, by establishing a South American political institution with expertise in sanitary issues, the development of solutions to challenges that transcend national borders, developing values and mutual interests among the neighboring countries, thus facilitating the interaction of the Member States health authorities through the exchange of knowledge and technology in the region.

The South American Health Council (SHC) is composed of the Health Ministries of Unasur Member States. In order to achieve the Council’s goals, the Coordinating Committee - responsible for preparing propositions of Agreements and Resolutions - was created. It is formed by representatives and deputies of each Member State and a representative of the MERCOSUR, ORAS CONHU, ACTO and PAHO in the capacity of observers and transiently.

The Presidency of the Health Council is held by the Minister of Health of the country nominated for the Pro Tempore Presidency (PTP) of Unasur. It is in charge of coordinating the activities of all its bodies and managing the Technical Secretary. The Pro Tempore President has a two-year term that may be extended for another two years, being unconditionally succeeded by a president from a different country.

The SHC is supported by the Technical Secretary in charge of the Pro Tempore Presidency (PTP) and two countries of the previous and following PTP, in order to ensure the continuity of works. Additionally, it is composed of five Technical Groups (1- Health Surveillance and Response; 2- Development of Universal Health Systems; 3- Health Promotion and Action on Social Determinants; 4- Universal Access to Medicines; 5- Human Resources Development and Management) and six Structuring Networks (1- Network of National Institutes of Health (RINS); 2- Network of Health Technical Schools of UNASUR (RETS), 3- Network of National Institutions and Institutes of Cancer (RINC); 4- Network of Public Health Schools of Unasur (RESP); 5- Network of Disasters Risk Management; 6- Network of International Offices and International Cooperation in Health (REDSSUR-ORIS))

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