The Union of South American Nations - UNASUR is a regional international organization formed by the Governments of all 12 countries in the Region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
UNASUR was created in May 23rd, 2008, during a Meeting of the South American Chiefs of State Council in Brasilia, Brazil, in order to become a strategic space for cultural, social, economic and political integration, aiming to: eliminate socioeconomic inequalities and reduce asymmetries among the nations of the region, considering and respecting the sovereignty and independence of each Member State; strengthen social inclusion and the national and regional citizen participation; and strengthen democracy in the region.
UNASUR is organized through Councils of different levels. The South American Chiefs of State Council occupies the highest political level among all UNASUR Councils. This Council ordinarily meets once a year and consists of the Chiefs of State/Heads of Government of each of the 12 member countries.
Just below the Chiefs of State Council is the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers. This other Council, which normally meets twice a year, is responsible to implement the decisions taken by the Chiefs of State Council, in compliance with the strategic agenda of UNASUR. The Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers is engaged in the development and promotion of regional and international collaboration on strategic issues, approve the annual budget of UNASUR and creates, based on the decisions and agreements of the Chiefs of State Council, Working Groups to advance and collaborate on issues identified as priorities.
Supporting the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers is the General Secretariat of UNASUR, whose Secretary-General shall be appointed by the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers and approved by the Chiefs of State Council. The General Secretariat, in addition to controlling the budget set by the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers, is in charge of the documentation of all agreements and resolutions taken by the block’s different Councils and for the organization of meetings of all UNASUR Councils.
UNASUR also counts with 12 Sectorial Councils, comprising all the major priority issues of regional and international interest. These Councils are:
  1. South American Health Council
  2. South American Council of Social Development
  3. South American Council of Infrastructure and Planning
  4. South American Council of Education
  5. South American Council of Culture
  6. South American Council of Science, Technology and Innovation
  7. South American Council on Citizen Security, Justice and Coordination Against Transnational Organized Crime
  8. Council on the World Drug Problem
  9. South American Council of Defense
  10. South American Council of Economy and Finance
  11. South American Energy Council
  12. Electoral Council
Further details on each of the Sectorial Councils can be obtained at ISAGS website.
The South American Network of Public Health Schools (RESP/UNASUR) is linked the South American Health Council. This Council aims to coordinate and integrate the efforts of South American nations to strengthen national health systems and promote health policies of common interest, contributing to the reduction of regional and international inequalities.
The Ministers of Health of all South American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela) compose the South American Health Council. The Council is the advisory body at UNASUR on issues related to health systems, services and programs, and serves as an instrument of integration and social cohesion between the efforts made by the South American nations to face health inequities. Through its technical and political agenda, detailed in a Five-Year Work Plan, the Council seeks to promote the coordination of strategic actions among countries, sub-regional agencies, existing and new institutions to contribute, effectively, for the social and economic development of South America.
More information about the South American Health Council can be found on their website.
In April 2009, through Resolution 05/2009, the South American Health Council approved the creation of the South American Institute of Governance in Health, with the main objective to act as a center of advanced studies and debate on public health policies, thus contributing to the development of health governance and leadership in the countries of UNASUR. In September 2010, ISAGS was established by a resolution of the UNASUR Chiefs of State Council, which also ratified its headquarters in Brazil, in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Among the ISAGS competencies are:
  • Assess needs, develop programs and support training and capacity building of strategic human resources and leadership in health for member countries, along with national and international institutions.
  • Organize existing knowledge and conduct research on health policies  and health governance, development of health human resources and other relevant topics that may be addressed by the South American Health Council, in conjunction with national and international institutions.
  • To systematize, organize, disseminate and transmit technical and scientific information on global and regional health, in order to support the decision making processes of strategic health institutes and institutions, strengthening the regional governance in health.
  • Assist in the formulation of health policies of common interest in the UNASUR region, supporting the negotiation of health related issues in the global, regional and international agendas.
  • To provide technical advise to the national health institutions through new methodological approaches and evaluation, in order to promote the application and transfer of knowledge, distance education, and in turn, developing models to assess products, causes and effects of this cooperation.
More information about the ISAGS, its actions and its work plan can be obtained from the Institute's website.