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

IHR News

The WHO quarterly bulletin on IHR implementation

28 September 2012 No. 19


IHR implementation in countries: Extensions, national action plans and what WHO is doing to support achievement

With the second milestone relative to IHR implementation1 in countries come and gone with only partial achievement, WHO headquarters and the six regional offices are escalating efforts to support and accelerate achievement of core capacities in countries.

Momentum towards IHR implementation is increasing: regional back-to-back trainings in national legislation and laboratory capacity building, combined trainings in points of entry and surveillance, table top exercises, release of new tools to address gaps and formalized partnerships2 between public health institutions underscore the commitment of stakeholders – WHO, Member States, technical partners and donors – to consolidate efforts to help the world be better prepared to prevent and when necessary, respond to, public health events of international concern.

As set out in the IHR, all counties were to have achieved the core capacities3 by June 2012. Countries’ state of readiness varies however; the IHR, therefore, make it possible for countries not having met the June 2012 deadline to request a 2-year extension – accompanied by a national action plan – for achieving the minimum core capacities.

Thus far, 102 countries have requested extensions accompanied by a national action plan; 15 countries have indicated that they need extensions but have not yet provided a national action plan; 34 countries have indicated that they have all the required capacities in place and therefore do not require an extension.

The 102 national action plans provided to WHO are currently being analysed to identify priority action areas for WHO. In parallel, WHO headquarters and regional offices continue to refine guidance and tools to better meet the needs in countries and are actively seeking to engage new partners to ensure sustained support for activities on the ground.

Meanwhile, coordinated response between WHO and the regional offices continues in the face of current public health events. Updates on the novel coronavirus infection in the United Kingdom, cholera in Sierra Leone and Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are available on the disease outbreak news web page:

1June 2009: assess national structures and resources and develop national action plans; June 2012: meet IHR core capacity requirements or if necessary, request a 2-year extension with the submission of a national action plan for achievement of the core capacities by June 2012. In exceptional circumstances and supported by a new national action plan, a further 2-year extension may be granted by the WHO Director-General.
2See “Other news” in this issue, signature of WHO/Institut Pasteur MoU
3 Eight core capacities, capacities at points of entry and capacities for the detection and response to IHR relevant hazards: National legislation; National Focal Points communications and coordination; surveillance; response; preparedness; risk communications; human resources; laboratory; points of entry; food safety events; nuclear events; radiological events.

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