Strengthening health security by implementing the International Health Regulations (2005)

IHR Committees

138th session of the Executive Board
WHO/C. Black

1 February 2016 -- WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, announced today a Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding the increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations. This comes after the Emergency Committee agreed that a link between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly, though not yet scientifically proven, is strongly suspected and constitutes an “extraordinary event” and a public health threat to other parts of the world.

Core functions of the IHR

In today’s connected world, health security is a global issue. We must all protect ourselves, and each other, from threats like infectious diseases, chemical and radiological events.
That is why 196 countries have agreed to work together to prevent and respond to public health crises. The agreement is called the International Health Regulations, or IHR (2005), and WHO plays the coordinating role. Through the IHR, WHO keeps countries informed about public health risks, and works with partners to help countries build capacity to detect, report and respond to public health events.

Latest guidance

Handbook for the assessment of capacities at the human-animal interface

This Handbook was developed by WHO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to facilitate the assessment of public health capacities in countries for areas in which veterinary services contribute to the implementation of the IHR (2005). It highlights complementarities between the WHO IHR Monitoring Tool and the Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Pathway, and aims at facilitating annual reporting on country compliance with IHR (2005) requirements by using the results of the PVS Pathway missions. Through this process, it also endeavours to highlight the importance of the collaboration between the human and animal health sectors.


Strengthening the competencies, including the knowledge and skills, of public health personnel is critical to the sustainment of public health surveillance and response at all levels of the health system and the effective implementation of the IHR.

WHO provides leadership and contributes to building the capacity of public health professionals working on the implementation of the IHR; it has fostered the development and offers a variety of learning solutions, including training activities, materials and tools, tailored to specific needs of public health workers and partner institutions.

In focus


IHR national capacities

All States Parties are required to have or to develop minimum core public health capacities to implement the IHR (2005) effective in accordance with articles 5 and 13 of the IHR (2005).