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

IHR News

The WHO quarterly bulletin on IHR implementation

What's new in IHR coordination and support

Update on external review of the IHR

Further to the proposal of the WHO Director-General to the 126th session of the Executive Board to review the functioning of the IHR in light of the global response to pandemic (H1N1) 2009, the Review Committee convened its first meeting from 12 to 14 April 2010 at WHO headquarters in Geneva. During this meeting, committee members agreed the scope and methods of work. This included the creation of five technical subcommittees to better explore the critical issues around the WHO's response to the pandemic: capacity and preparedness, alert and risk assessment, IHR functions, communications and response. The Review Committee members continued their deliberations via electronic exchanges and two rounds of teleconferences by each of the subcommittees were held from 4 to 11 May and from 31 May to 4 June. The subcommittees have identified key issues and information needs as well as key groups of persons to be invited to assist in contributing to the review through interviews that the Review Committee will conduct. A Note from the Chairman of the IHR Review Committee provides more detailed information about the intersessional activities of the Committee:

The second meeting of the Review Committee will be held at WHO headquarters from 30 June to 2 July 2010.

63rd World Health Assembly, 17–21 May 2010, Geneva, Switzerland

During the 63rd session of the WHA, many WHO Member States stressed that the IHR play a vital role in protecting global public health and that their governments fully support IHR implementation, describing some of the activities that they are carrying out to implement the Regulations at national and regional level. Member States emphasized that pandemic (H1N1) 2009 had been successfully managed and controlled under the IHR framework. They underscored the need for individual, country-based capacity strengthening, learning from past lessons, the importance of flexibility and of reaching out beyond the health sector to all hazards. They also emphasized the need for strong communication and partnerships. Finally, Member States support the Review Committee process and agreed this presents an opportunity to learn from experiences and improve on current activities for capacity building and pandemic influenza preparedness. Addressing Committee A of the Health Assembly, the Review Committee Chair Dr Harvey Fineberg concluded that the Review Committee looks forward to working together with States Parties on an objective, critical assessment of how the IHR worked in the context of the global WHO response to pandemic (H1N1) 2009.

IHR i-course – update on 1st session

The first session of the course, launched on 22 March 2010, is currently under way. The course brings together 37 participants from 32 countries from the six WHO regions, all professionals working in the areas of communicable diseases, laboratory diagnostics, capacity building, as well as policy analysts, university professors and lawyers. Following an intense distance-learning period during which the participants and facilitators worked via an online platform, the entire group will come together from 12 to 23 July 2010 at the Fondation Mérieux Conference Centre Les Pensières, Veyrier-du-Lac, France. This will allow the participants to present the results of their individual and group work as well as to meet experts from the WHO and other international organizations to share additional knowledge and experience. Certificates will be delivered to participants upon completion of their personal portfolios, comprising a series of assignments relevant to IHR implementation in their respective countries.

The second session begins on 27 September 2010.

Updated WHO guidance for the use of Annex 2 of the International Health Regulations

The purpose of the WHO guidance on Annex 2 is to help national authorities to use the decision instrument -- Annex 2 -- in assessing public health events that may require notification to WHO. The guidance document is targeted to national IHR focal points and others responsible for assessing the need to notify WHO of public health events under the Regulations. Originally published as interim guidance, the document was reviewed by a group of experts and users from around the world during a technical consultation held in Geneva from 20 to 22 October 2008. This revised version of the guidance document builds on the recommendations of this consultation and on input from WHO regional offices. It also includes a number of case scenarios to illustrate the application of the assessment criteria as well as IHR case definitions for the four notifiable disease entities.

Assessment tool for core capacity requirements at designated airports, ports and ground crossings

This document was developed to support States Parties in assessing existing capacities and capacity needs at points of entry when deciding which airports, ports and ground crossing to designate under Article 20.1 and Annex 1B.

The Spanish version is to be released in the last quarter of 2010.

Risk communication working group meeting, 11–12 May 2010, Lyon, France

Reflecting the designation of risk communication as a core capacity under the IHR, the IHR working group on risk communication was created in 2009 to explore core elements, abilities and assessment frameworks needed for developing risk communication for public health emergency capacity. The second meeting of the group was held in Lyon, France from 11 to 12 May 2010 to review the outcome of the Global Health Security Communication Network Meeting outcomes as well as to discuss an IHR Risk Communication Capacity Building Guide.

IHR Coordination Department activity report 2009

The IHR Coordination Department activity report 2009 has been released in English and French. The report highlights activities carried out in collaboration with the six WHO regional offices to support countries towards IHR implementation.