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

IHR News

The WHO bulletin on IHR implementation

What's new in IHR coordination and support

Third meeting on Early Warning and Event-Based Surveillance, Lyon, France, 17-19 December 2013

Further to the first two consultations on surveillance that took place in March and November 2013, the objectives of this meeting were to finalize the guidance document on event-based surveillance for early warning; initiate the development of accompanying materials; and identify procedures for validation and implementation of the guidance. Led by the Global Capacities Alert and Response Department, this meeting brought together country experts and representatives from the Americas, the Eastern-Mediterranean, the European, South- East Asian and Western Pacific regions, as well as experts from the WHO chemical and radiation programmes.

Fourteenth Steering Committee Meeting of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), Chavannes de Bogis, Switzerland 9-11 December 2013

The 14th Steering Committee of the Global outbreak alert and response network (GOARN) witnessed significant milestones for the Network, including welcoming five new members to the committee and shaping a 5-year strategy and the 2014-15 workplan, in line with the ongoing WHO reform, IHR (2005) objectives, the WHO programme of work for the upcoming biennium and other relevant developments in global health over the course of 2013. The meeting tackled additional priority items that are routinely reviewed by the Committee, including a critical review of recent GOARN activities, GOARN missions in support of WHO for cholera, MERS-CoV and Influenza A/H7N9 in affected countries and the response and recovery support to the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan. The committee also engaged in a detailed discussion with WHO regional advisors from the African, Americas, Eastern- Mediterranean, European, South-East Asian and Western Pacific regions on strengthening regional response capacity and upcoming regional priorities for 2014-15.

Fourth Meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee concerning MERS-CoV, 4 December 2013

The Meeting, convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) was held by teleconference on Wednesday, 4 December 2013. In addition to Members of the Emergency Committee, the teleconference included the participation of two expert advisors as well as a number of affected States Parties – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Spain – reporting recent cases of MERS-CoV. Following the update and assessment of epidemiological and scientific developments provided by the WHO Secretariat, the above affected States Parties presented on recent developments in their countries. After discussion and deliberation on the information provided, it was the unanimous decision of the Committee that the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met. For the full WHO statement on the Fourth Meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee concerning MERS-CoV:

Points of entry: Technical support for the assessment of IHR core capacities Algiers, Algeria, 19-24 October 2013

The assessment team was composed of experts from the Algerian Ministry of Health and WHO Global Capacities Alert and Response monitoring and ports, airports and ground crossings teams. The objectives of the mission were to brief the national authorities on the capacities required for the implementation of International Health Regulations (2005) at points of entry, and assist the national authorities to assess the current status of core capacities related to IHR implementation at designated points of entry. The assessment team provided technical recommendations based on preliminary assessment results, an action plan will be developed accordingly.

Laboratory Quality Manual template now online

The template provides guidance for public health and clinical laboratories on writing policies and procedures that support a laboratory quality management system. It comprises a main document providing information and examples to assist with writing a laboratory quality manual, and 24 appendices (examples of standard operating procedures, forms, and processes). All documents are meant to serve as templates and are thus modifiable: the individual laboratories are required to customize the text to the local situation. The quality manual template is available in English and will soon be available in French.

Laboratory Information Management Systems, Lyon, France, 7-8 October 2013

To support health laboratory services in Member States, the WHO Department of Global Capacities, Alert and Response (GCR) organized a workshop on 7 to 8 October 2013 to define and discuss options for developing laboratory information management systems (LIMS) for public health laboratories in resource-limited settings. Participants comprised 11 temporary advisors representing stakeholders, technical experts and end-users of LIMS, and WHO technical staff from Headquarters and the Regional Offices. Outcomes of the workshop included recommendations to serve as a road map for WHO actions for developing and deploying cost-effective LIMS in resource-limited public health laboratories. These recommendations call on WHO to advocate for LIMS implementation and interoperability as part of the National Health Policies and Strategic Plan; provide guidance to Member States on needs assessment and minimal functional requirements for LIMS; support and promote implementation of standards of interoperability; facilitate training of laboratory professionals and convene regular meetings for stakeholders to facilitate LIMS development and implementation.

Learning on IHR: A new approach

Building on the achievements of the IHR implementation course, the Global Capacities Alert and Response Department (GCR) is now setting up a comprehensive learning approach on “Health Security under the IHR framework” targeting both individual and institutional levels. This approach, supported by technical programmes, tools and materials, aims to: increase the mass of professionals who share a common approach to the interpretation and application of the IHR framework; support countries in taking ownership and institutionalizing learning on IHR issues, and adapting programmes and activities based on their respective national contexts. To support this approach, the GCR Human Resources Development and Training team is working on two parallel projects: updating the IHR training site in a virtual learning environment on “Health Security under the IHR framework”. The new site will host information on all existing and future IHR related training / learning courses and activities, different learning web based applications (chat groups, webinars, wikis, etc.) and will made available to WHO partners worldwide. The new site will be released during the first quarter of 2014. The second project to support learning on IHR is a multi-purpose IHR training toolkit, developed in collaboration with the GCR Field Epidemiology, Surveillance and Networks and with the contributions of the six WHO regions. The scope and content of this toolkit has been broadened so that it may be used by institutions and organizations from different sectors (i.e. health, food and agriculture, transport, travel and trade, education, defense) to enhance the capacities of professionals working in these areas.

Learning programme on ship sanitation certification

The Global Capacities Alert and Response Department (GCR) teams on Ports, Airports and Ground Crossings and Human Resources Development and Training have developed a blended learning programme to support the learning needs of port health inspectors on the issuance of ship sanitation certificates under the IHR 2005. This programme is now accessible on the IHR training site in English, Portuguese and Spanish; the eLearning component is also available in Arabic, French and Russian.