Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

8. International Health Regulations and Epidemic Control

Johan Giesecke

Other international agreements on notification of sudden health hazards (2)

  • UN Economic Commission for Europe & WHO Office for Europe: Protection & Use of Transboundary Watercourses & International Lakes, 1992
  • United Nations Environment Programme: Convention on the Control of the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste & Their Disposal, Basel 1989
  • Biological & Toxin Weapons Convention: Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, production & Stockpiling of Biological & Toxin Weapons

One particular example in the list might be the programme on the international reporting on adverse events to drugs, as this has interesting parallels to the IHR with respect to potentially sensitive information. It connects the formally recognised monitoring centres of some 60 countries in a network in which participants share reports on verified, and even suspected, adverse drug reactions. The principle is thus very similar to the reporting of national outbreaks of infectious diseases that could affect other countries.

Such reports on adverse reactions could obviously be very damaging to producers, even if erroneous, and it is interesting to speculate why there seems to be less reluctance from countries to participate in this network than to report under the IHR. One reason may be that it is private companies rather than nations that would be hurt, another is that the network does not try to harmonise any response - it just provides information to all the monitoring centres for them to act on individually.