For many years regional organizations were regarded as entities that dwelt mainly on trade liberalization and in certain instances, on security as well. After the 1990s many regional organizations widened their mandates to also incorporate elements of social policies including health. This is particularly significant as coordinated approaches are often needed within a given geographic space to address health challenges. The current health challenges related to the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa could have been different had there been robust and more efficient collaborative tools such as effective early warning systems shared between the member states of the region. So this policy brief comes at an opportune moment. This brief closely looks at the role that regional entities (with emphasis on the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)) can play in advancing health equity for citizens living in member states. It looks at how UNASUR has been active in fostering health equity through health diplomacy not only within South America but also within international bodies. The experiences of UNASUR have been informed by a sharp sense of engagement of national stakeholders including activists and policy makers involved in working groups that operate across state lines. While it is true that specificities matter, there are definitely best practices that can be shared between regional entities and other actors in advancing health equity.
Riggirozzi, P. Strengthening Rights and Equity through Health Diplomacy: the role of UNASUR. Open University, Milton Keynes, UK (2015) 5 pp. [PRARI Policy Brief No 5]