6.7 Implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005)

Secretariat note

The report summarizes information received from States Parties on implementation status, as well as WHO activities in this area at both the regional and global levels. The report focuses on the establishment and strengthening of the national core capacities and the management of acute public health risks as well as procedures relating to the approaching target date of June 2012 for national structures and resources to meet the minimum requirements for surveillance and response described in Annex 1 of the Regulations.


Watchers' notes of EB discussion

Implementation of the International Health Regulation (2005) (EB Document 130/16)

Summary of the session

Under this Agenda Item, Executive Board Members discussed the Report by the Director General (document EB130/16).

Comments and questions were expressed regarding the content of the report, which was then noted by the EB.  In addition to this, the Secretariat was requested by the US to prepare a paper with an update on progress in International Health Regulation (IHR) implementation, factors obstructing countries from meeting their obligations, and what WHO can offer to assist these countries. This request was supported by non-EB Members: Australia and UK.  

On the other hand, a large number of developing countries acknowledged the difficulty of meeting the deadline of implementing IHR by mid-2012. They requested technical support by the WHO, and asked to extend the deadline until 2014.  

In response to interventions, the Secretariat clarified that they currently have information from 150 countries, whereas the report reflects information on 117 only, because not all country information have been analysed. Updated information will be available by the World Health Assembly. The Secretariat explained that countries can apply for extension following the procedure in the IHR. The Secretariat acknowledged the social and economic differences between countries. They encouraged bilateral cooperation, pointing to the Bahamas and the US, and regional and horizontal networking, mentioned by Thailand, noting that these efforts are quite complementary to the IHR work.

Details of the discussion

Syria, speaking on behalf of EMRO, expressed its support to the use of IHR internationally as during the Fukushima nuclear accident. Syria noted that there are still countries which will need assistance from WHO on the implementation of IHR, and asked these countries to be allowed an extension of the deadline (mid-2012).  

Burundi, on behalf of AFRO, highlighted some challenges in the process of implementing the IHR such as annual reporting, financial resources, and intersectoral approach cooperation. Burundi stated that it is impossible for AFRO countries to meet the deadline and urged that extension be allowed.  

The US positioned itself as a “partner” to the process and expressed its willingness to support the WHO, Member States and he global community on IHR implementation in times of financial constraints. Later, Bahamas, a non-EB Member, said they benefited greatly from the technical support by the US.

Estonia, on behalf of EU, was of the view that many countries will not be able to respect the deadline of mid 2012, noting that the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic has shown that the world is not ready to face a public health emergency. Estonia called upon the WHO for strengthening national core capacities in countries in need.  

India asked for an extension of its deadline, because it was not possible to implement core capacity by 2012, and requested the WHO to facilitate mechanisms of implementation noting the importance of complementary regional planning.  

France, supported Estonia statement, and requested that the technical documents on vectorial situation be made publicly available.  

Japan noted the problem of absence of a legal framework to govern this process.

Morocco, aligned itself to EMRO statement, and noted the different social and economic levels among countries, which necessitate that financial and technical support be provided to countries to implement IHR.  

Mexico requested a full assessment of countries in term of compliance to IHR.

As for non-EB Members, Thailand called for adequate information sharing and supported the formation of horizontal regional networks and South-South cooperation.  The Russian Federation asked the Secretariat to address the “inadequacy” of delayed upload of information on the WHO website and their translation into all official languages of the WHO.  Iran noted that it was recognised as one of the most prepared in the region after the WHO mission in 2011. Iran said it is ready to share its experiences with other Member States.