Revision process of the International Health Regulations (IHR)
The guiding principle for the IHR(2005) is to prevent international disease spread by early detection of, and effective response to, events that pose a risk to public health. This requires the rapid identification of unusual public health events through effective national surveillance systems which link directly to the implementation of timely and appropriate responses. When such emergencies give rise to global concerns, an effective response requires international co-ordination.
The world is changing and very few urgent public health risks stay solely within national boundaries. Coupled with increases in global traffic and trade, new microbes have appeared and old diseases have re-emerged. The World Health Assembly has responded to these changes:
- In the early 1990s the return of old epidemics such as cholera in certain parts of South America and the emergence of new infectious agents such as Ebola haemorrhagic fever resulted in a resolution at the 1995 World Health Assembly calling for the revision of the International Health Regulations.
- In 2001, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on Global health security: epidemic alert and response in which WHO was to support its Member States identifying, verifying and responding to public health emergencies of international concern.
- In 2002, the World Health Assembly again reiterated the need to revise the IHR in its resolution, "Global public health response to natural occurrence, accidental release or deliberate use of biological and chemical agents or radionuclear material that affect health".
- In 2003, the World Health Assembly requested the Director-General to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group on the Revision of the International Health Regulations, in order to ensure a broad international consensus on the revision proposals.
- In January 2004, the WHO Executive Board decided to convene the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Revision of the International Health Regulations in November 2004.
- From 1-12 November 2004 the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on the Revision of the International Health Regulations was held in Geneva.
- From 21-26 February 2005, a second meeting of the IGWG was held Geneva to complete its work. This meeting was suspended and reconvened from 12-13 May 2005, immediately prior to the 58th World Health Assembly.
- The World Health Assembly adopted the International Health Regulations (2005) by acclamation on 23 May 2005.
- World Health Assembly resolution WHA58.3 of 23 May 2005 adopting the International Health Regulations (2005)