13 LatAm, C’bean legislators agree to harmonise health legislation

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (CMC) – Legislators from 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries have agreed to work together to harmonise laws and regulatory frameworks, in accordance with the best available scientific evidence, on a variety of health issues in the region.

They gave the commitment during the IV Congress of the Presidents of the Health Committees of the Parliaments of the Americas – “Health legislation as a tool for social inclusion”, which was held here late last month.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), which organised the congress, said that parliamentarians exchanged their experiences, learned about successful cases of health legislation in Uruguay, and received strategic vision and technical information from a variety of regional advisors from PAHO.

“The meeting brought together key actors involved in creating and modifying laws to analyse the benefits of adopting legislation that can prevent diseases and promote good health. It also facilitated the sharing of successful legislation that can be adapted and applied by parliaments in other countries,” said Giovanni Escalante, the PAHO/WHO representative in Uruguay.

PAHO’s regional advisor on health-related legislation and the technical secretary of the congress, Ignacio Ibarra, said “so long as health issues are similar and global health is being promoted, legislation should not differ much from country to country.

“However, not all countries in the Americas have solid regulatory frameworks so sometimes existing legislation is not being applied for a variety of reasons including a lack of legal authority or limited control mechanisms.”

During the congress, the importance of harmonising laws relating to health, and utilising the models and framework laws discussed in sub-regional parliaments, was emphasised, as these serve to guide the revision of national legislation in the region, a process which is supported by PAHO.

The legislators issued a declaration expressing their support for efforts aimed at ending tuberculosis and urged heads of state and governments in the region to accelerate actions towards achieving this goal.

They were also urged to attend the first high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuberculosis on September 26.

Tuberculosis is a disease that affected 274,000 people in the Americas in 2016, leading to 17,000 deaths. The region could be the first in the world to eliminate it.

The legislators also debated the need to include the issue of migratory flows on their countries’ parliamentary agendas, and the challenge these pose for health, as well as the need to strengthen health actions in border areas.

During the congress, the parliamentarians also agreed to strengthen the parliamentary health network, which will serve to bridge communication and exchange experiences.

“All members of the region’s parliamentary health committees, as well as committees working on issues related to health promotion and determining factors, can join this network. PAHO will organise the network in its capacity as technical secretariat of the congress,” the PAHO statement noted.

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