III Congress of Health Committees of Parliaments in the Americas
22 diciembre 2017


Health. Between November 27-29, the Chilean Senate and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) held the third edition of an event whose objective is to think about the legislative health agenda for the coming years. Specialists, public officials, scientists, academics and legislators from all over Latin America participated in the venue, with the aim of drafting a final document that sets future priorities.

After the meetings that were held both in Peru (2015) and Panama (2016), this was the opportunity for Chile to discuss issues such as food labelling, Non-Communicable Diseases and risk factors that cause them, effects of climate change in human health, business behavior in the field and vaccination -among several other issues.

The Vice President of the Chamber of Senators, Guido Girardi, together with the Minister of Health of Trans-Andean Affairs (Carmen Castillo), were in charge of starting the first day of exhibitions. It is worth highlighting the Chilean advances in health, being the first country in the region to label the products -according to their nutritional content- and becoming the example to be followed by the rest of the neighbour nations.

During Michelle Bachelet’s presidency, problems have been recognized, such as the role of breast milk substitutes, the shifting of the focus of malnutrition to overweight and / or obesity or the population’s poor consumption behaviors. The clear effect generated by these situations is observed in the tax reform of soft drinks or in the reforms focused on the advertising of infant formulas, with the intention of discouraging their consumption or regulating their dissemination.

Cigarette smoking and self-care were also topics of discussion during the event, the first as a highly damaging legal marketing product. However, it is important to notice that there is a strong emphasis on conscious individual actions that allow each person to preserve their health. The discussion also reached the health of the food production chain, as well as the difference between the Basic Food Basket and its nutritional version.

Here is the full report of the three-day-event. The document contains the list of outstanding speakers (a faithful reflection of the limited regional competition, a product -in part- of a local electoral context in development).

Next steps

Now it is the responsibility of the legislators to take into account the recommendations or points agreed in the final document of the event, to advance in the sanitary aspects of the national laws of each country. This process will be somewhat difficult during the next time, given the low attendance of several nations to the meeting and the focus of attention of the Chilean hosts put on the domestic policy.

However, we must highlight the continuity of the meetings. Next year will be the time for a fourth edition, which PAHO will not let happen (as it happened in this opportunity) and will perhaps allow the resumption of the pending issues of the last year but the pending accounts of what was exposed during 2016 in Panama.