As a legally binding instrument, the scope of the International Health Regulations, 2005 (IHR) is “to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease” (article 2). It embraces the full-cycle of management of health emergencies, multi-sectoral work and all-hazards strategies, covering manifestation of diseases or occurrences that create potential for diseases (article 1). Notification is required for “any event of potential international public health concern, including those of unknown causes or sources and those involving other events or diseases than those listed. ” (annex 2).
The IHR requires States Parties to develop core capacities for rapid detection, assessment and response, including for surveillance, laboratories, and risk communication, with suitable legislation, financing, and is operated through the national IHR focal points. The health system as a whole provides the foundation on which the IHR core capacities are established.
The IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework which consists of country reports, external evaluation, after-action review and simulation exercise, supports the assessment of core capacities. All countries are encouraged to participate, reveal their gaps and develop concrete action planes to ensure their health security.
In the WHO European Region, we are focusing on Priority Countries to support the advancement of their IHR capacities and health system strengthening, aiming to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Health 2020: the European policy for health, as well the G7 and G20 commitments.
The new WHO Emergency Programme, the WHE, is fully functional, designed for speed, flexibility, and effective impact to meet the health needs of affected people. It has operational capabilities, added onto the WHO’s technical and normative roles, and It is designed to address the immediate health needs of populations affected by health emergencies, whilst tackling the root causes of their vulnerabilities. Everything WHE does must contribute to the delivery of better results at the country level.
The paramount goal of the WHE is to provide efficient and effective response to health emergencies not only when these emergencies are developing but also to enhance the level of predictability of these emergencies and create targeted response in the early state of crisis development.
New standard operating procedures are now in place. Guidelines and checklists to prevent, detect, respond and recover from emergencies have been developed and linked to the WHO European Essential Public Health Functions. These reforms have already started to show results. WHO has been able to detect situations more quickly and respond more rapidly than before.
The WHO Emergency Program (WHE) in the European Region is using the SHIELDS (Synergistic Health In Emergencies Ladder Development Tools) as a practical platform to present the monitoring and evaluations and to steer, enhance, monitor and upscale those capacities of member states. See example of Kyrgyzstan.