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

Public Health Emergency Operations Centre Network (EOC-NET)

Terms of reference

The following are EOC-NET Terms of reference for joining the EOC-NET:

Article 1: Name The Public Health Emergency Operations Centre Network (EOC-NET) is established with the vision and objectives stated in Article 3 and 4 of these Terms of reference.

Article 2: Status The EOC-NET is administered by the World Health Organization (“WHO”) through its Department of Global Capacities, Alert and Response (GCR). The EOC-NET is not an independent legal entity but a collaborative mechanism between the interested parties including WHO and the EOC-NET participants. The operations of the EOC-NET shall in all respects be administered in accordance with the WHO Constitution, WHO’s Financial and Staff Regulations and Rules, Manual provisions, and applicable policies, procedures and practices.

Article 3: Vision WHO constitution, Article 2.d. requests that the Organization: “In order to achieve its objective, the functions of the Organization shall be: [...] (d) to furnish appropriate technical assistance and, in emergencies, necessary aid upon the request or acceptance of Governments”. The IHR (2005) Article 13 requests that each State Party shall develop, strengthen and maintain the capacity to respond promptly and effectively to public health risks and public health emergencies of international concern. Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly Resolution 23 on Implementation of International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) requested the WHO Director-General to build and strengthen the capacities of the Secretariat to perform fully and effectively the functions entrusted to it under the IHR (2005), in particular through strategic health operations that provide support to countries, regional and trans-regional networks of States Parties in detection, reporting and assessment
of, response to, and capacity strengthening in public health emergencies. The same Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly in resolution 20 requested WHO lead the UN Health Cluster and “to provide a faster, more effective and more predictable humanitarian response by operationalizing the Emergency Response Framework". The EOC-NET is established to meet the above requirement, with the vision that all public health emergency operation centres (EOC) will have the capacity to perform core supporting functions to ensure effective response to public health risks and public health emergencies and especially those of international concern.

Article 4: Objectives The EOC-NET aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • to support States Parties in building their public health EOC capacity (including communication, information management, mobilization, coordination and collaboration with other partners, etc.) as part of their national emergency response framework;
  • to share expertise, lessons and experiences in building, evaluating, exercising and utilizing EOCs for public health emergency response;
  • to identify key needs of information and communication technologies (ICT) and explore/test possible solutions;
  • to identify the minimum data set (MDS) and standards related to public health EOCs;
  • to develop and make available common procedures and protocols for public health EOCs and 
promote best practices;
  • to develop mechanisms and tools to support necessary information gathering and sharing 
among relevant public health EOCs during health operations; and
  • to develop and implement EOC training programmes. 

Article 5: Participants 
The EOC-NET may comprise public health EOCs of States Parties and WHO, including WHO headquarters, Regional Offices, and Country Offices. 
Based on needs, WHO may invite other inter-governmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and other partners who have active involvement in preparing for and responding to public health risks and public health emergencies. 

Article 6: Secretariat support 
Subject to the availability of sufficient human and financial resources for this purpose, secretariat and planning support for the EOC-NET will be provided by WHO, acting through the GCR Department (hereinafter referred to as the “Secretariat”).

Article7: Communication resources The participants of the EOC-NET may utilize face-to-face meetings and electronic communication platforms for the exchange of information related to the work of the EOC-NET. The need for face-to-face meetings of the EOC-NET will be determined by the Secretariat that will, in its discretion, convene such meetings and develop the related meeting agenda. Teleconferences will be coordinated by the Secretariat as needed and can be hosted by participants as agreed. EOC-NET participants will have access to the EOC-NET e-working space that supports on-going communication among EOC-NET participants.

Article 8: Publications Any publication on the work of the EOC-NET is subject to WHO’s rules on publications and will be published by WHO in accordance with its usual procedures and practices. As a general rule and subject to its discretion, WHO shall be responsible for issuing publications about EOC-NET activities. All decisions about the preparation and dissemination of publications concerning EOC-NET activities shall be made by WHO. For the avoidance of doubt, dissemination of EOC-NET materials will only be made by WHO or as decided on a case-by-case basis by WHO. Copyright in any publication made by WHO shall be vested in WHO. This also applies if the work is issued by WHO and is a compilation of works by EOC-NET participants or is otherwise a work prepared with input from one or more EOC-NET participants. Any publication about EOC-NET activities by an EOC-NET participant shall be subject to review and approval by WHO prior to its issuance and shall contain appropriate disclaimers as decided by WHO, including that the content does not necessarily reflect the views or stated policy of the EOC- NET or the Secretariat.

Article 9: Confidentiality The participants of the EOC-NET agree:

  • to maintain confidentiality of information shared among EOC-NET participants, except when explicitly indicated otherwise by WHO;
  • to maintain confidentiality about views of the various participants and the deliberations of the EOC-NET, except with regard to agreed statements and reports issued by WHO or with the consent of WHO; and
  • not to make public statements about EOC-NET activities or public statements on behalf of WHO or any members of the EOC-Net unless specifically requested to do so by the secretariat.

Article 10: Termination Any participant of the EOC-NET has the right to withdraw from participation in the EOC-NET subject to the orderly conclusion of any on-going activities. The involvement of any participant shall terminate if and when this participant ceases to meet the criteria set forth in Article 5 or no longer subscribes to the objectives of the EOC-NET as described in Article 4. WHO has the right to cease the administration of the EOC-NET, subject to three months’ prior written notice to all EOC-NET participants and subject to the orderly conclusion of any on-going activities. In addition, WHO has the right to terminate the participation of any EOC-NET participant at any time. Article 11: WHO Name and emblem Without the prior written consent of WHO, no participant shall in any statement or material of an advertising or promotional nature, refer to its relationship with WHO or use name and emblem of WHO. Article 12: Amendments These terms of reference may be amended by WHO.

Reference: Public health emergency operations centre network (EOC-NET) Consultation meeting , 19-20 November 2012, Geneva, Switzerland