POLIS Research Seminar - Tackling Neglected Tropical Infectious Diseases in South America: The Role of Extra-Regional Global Health Governance Actors

We are delighted to welcome Markus Fraundorfer to present the POLIS Research Seminar.


Neglected tropical infectious diseases (NTIDs), such as Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, malaria, dengue, chikungunya and zika, are serious public health challenges in South America, presenting major social and economic burdens for all states in the region. Regional cooperation on a wide range of cross-border challenges in the region is traditionally weak. And no regional organization in South or Latin America has achieved to bring together the states of the region on NTIDs. Even the UNASUR Health Council, which became a crucial regional cooperation mechanism on health issues over the last decade, never prioritized NTIDs. Despite this lack of regional cooperation mechanisms on NTIDs, this chapter argues that over the last three decades complex regional governance arrangements emerged which significantly advanced research and development on several NTIDs endemic in the region. These regional governance arrangements were facilitated by extra-regional organizations, such as the WHO, PAHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). Given their reflexive authority on combating NTIDs, these organizations created a complex regional governance architecture that allowed governmental and non-governmental actors from South American countries to strengthen cooperation activities on NTIDs. In addition, this regional governance architecture on NTIDs has remained largely unaffected by the dramatic decline of interstate regionalism in South America, particularly exemplified by the collapse of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in 2019. The emergence of this regional governance architecture is particularly linked to the renewed attention given to NTIDs by the WHO, PAHO and DNDi since the late 1990s. Almost all cross-border collaboration efforts on NTIDs developed by South American actors in the region since the 1990s have either been an integral part of these global efforts or have heavily been inspired by them.

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