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

Epidemiological surveillance

The revised International Health Regulations (IHR), adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2005, specify a number of core capacity requirements for national disease surveillance and response systems.


The objective of the epidemiological surveillance project is to support IHR implementation by providing technical assistance and training activities in countries, in collaboration with the WHO Regional Offices.

Main activities

The activities focus on two areas of work: technical expertise and training.

Technical expertise:

  • assist countries to develop and/or strengthen core public health capacities under the scope of the IHR to better detect and respond to public health emergencies of international concern;
  • develop and disseminate guidelines for surveillance of communicable diseases, early warning and response.


  • develop IHR training modules on surveillance, early warning and response;
  • participate in various training courses;
  • participate in the development of training strategies.


  • setting up an epidemiological surveillance, early warning and response system in 5 countries in the Indian Ocean in partnership with the Indian Ocean Commission and the Agence Française de Développement;
  • supporting field epidemiology training programmes (FETP) in Ghana, India, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe;
  • participating in the development of the first francophone field epidemiology training programme (FETP) in Africa;
  • participating in the Network for Communicable Disease Control in Southern Europe and Mediterranean Countries (EpiSouth);
  • developing guidelines:
    - WHO recommended standards and strategies for surveillance, prevention and control of communicable diseases;
    - Early warning and response;
    - Communicable disease surveillance and response systems. A guide to planning;
    - Communicable disease surveillance and response systems. A guide to monitoring and evaluation;
    - Setting priorities in communicable disease surveillance.


Dr Pierre Nabeth, WHO Lyon Office