SEA/RC56/4 - International health regulations - revision process
AbstractA number of disease outbreaks of international concern during the 1990s focused attention on the International Health Regulations (IHR) which currently deal only with three designated diseases - cholera, plague and yellow fever. The resurgence of infectious diseases and the heightened risk of international spread caused by the growth of commercial air transport led in 1995 to World Health Assembly resolution WHA48.7, requesting the Director-General to take steps to revise and broaden the scope of IHR. A series of consultations of experts and working group meetings were held between 1995 and 1997 to secure agreement on the direction of the revision process. Resolution WHA54.14, adopted by the Fifty-fourth World Health Assembly in 2001, supported the ongoing revision, including criteria to define what constitutes a public health emergency of international concern so as to facilitate reporting by Member States of all such events. These criteria have been incorporated into a notification instrument and tested internally. They are now being formally tested with participating Member Countries. The resolution also urged Member States to designate a focal point for IHR. By May 2003, 138 out of 192 Member States of WHO had nominated national focal points for IHR revision and operations. WHO has put in place a global system for epidemic alert and response. A major outcome of this approach is an increasing tendency for countries to report outbreaks early and seek WHO's assistance in rapidly mobilizing and coordinating appropriate international support. The management and control of SARS recently has clearly demonstrated WHO's systematic approach to global epidemic alert and response requirements. In line with the IHR Revision Project, in-depth workshops were held in three countries of the SEA Region - India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. All three workshops recommended refinements to the notification instrument as well as a critical evaluation of national capacities in key sectors, including epidemiological surveillance, laboratory diagnostics, and points of international arrival and departure. To further support implementation of the revised Regulations, operational guidelines including (a) design and implementation of early warning systems for disease surveillance, (b) guide to ship sanitation, and (c) guide to hygiene and sanitation in aviation, are being developed or updated. The first technical composite draft was planned to be completed before May 2003. Due to the SARS outbreak, the publication of this key document was delayed in order to incorporate the crucial lessons learnt during the response to SARS. Finally, resolution WHA56.28, adopted by the Fifty-sixth World Health Assembly in May 2003, sets out the process to finalize the revision proposals. Regional consensus meetings are to be convened in 2003 to provide a forum for the Member States to evaluate the revised legal draft. Following this an intergovernmental working group will be established to finalize the revised Regulations for submission to the Fifty-eighth World Health Assembly in 2005. This paper is presented to the Regional Committee for noting the progress in the revision process.
World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia. (2003). SEA/RC56/4 - International health regulations - revision process. WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia. http://www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/128816