Alert, response, and capacity building under the International Health Regulations (IHR)

IHR Emergency Committee

WHO/Thomas Moran

The Emergency Committee is made up of international experts to provide technical advice to the WHO Director-General in the context of a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC). Depending on the circumstances, the Emergency Committee may advise on whether or not a PHEIC is occurring . If the Director-General determines that the event constitutes a PHEIC, the Emergency Committee will then provide advice on appropriate Temporary Recommendations of health measures to be implemented by States Parties. As a PHEIC proceeds, the Emergency Committee continues to provide advice to the Director-General.

Latest guidance

Early detection, assessment and response to acute public health events: Implementation of Early Warning and Response with a focus on Event-Based Surveillance

The goal of this document is to provide national health authorities, and stakeholders supporting them, with guidance for implementing or enhancing all-hazards early warning and response mechanisms within national surveillance systems. It aims to provide direction regarding the implementation of surveillance capacities, especially event-based surveillance, in order to detect and to respond rapidly to all acute health events and risks from any origin.

This document was developed between March 2013 and March 2014 with the support of a working group made up of country representatives, partners, and WHO colleagues at WHO.

Global Capacities, Alert and Response

WHO’s work in support of Global Capacities, Alert and Response, under IHR (2005) aims at:

  • further developing and maintaining an effective international system that is able to continuously assess the global context of public health risks and is prepared to respond rapidly to unexpected, internationally-spreading events and to contain specific public health threats.

  • providing guidance and support to countries to build strong national public health systems that can maintain active surveillance of diseases and public health events; rapidly investigate detected events; report and assess public health risk; share information; and implement public health control measures.


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).