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Public health approaches to infectious disease
Public health approaches to infectious disease

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2.2.1 International Health Regulations: IHR (2005)

The main aim of the International Health Regulations (IHRs) or ‘IHR (2005)’ is to ensure early warning and prompt action to contain any public health emergency of international concern. The obligations include the adoption of seven areas of work (Box 1) and the commitment by member states to improve their ‘real time’ reporting of disease outbreaks to WHO via round-the-clock communication channels.

Box 1 Seven areas of work covered by WHO IHR (2005)

  • Foster global partnerships.
  • Strengthen national disease prevention, surveillance, control and response systems.
  • Strengthen public health security in travel and transport, particularly at designated airports, seaports and ground crossings.
  • Strengthen the WHO global alert and response (GAR) systems and standardised approaches to contain outbreaks of major epidemic-prone diseases and dangerous and emerging pathogens with the ability to cause serious health impact and to spread rapidly across borders (e.g. meningococcal meningitis, cholera, viral haemorrhagic fevers such as dengue and Lassa fever, yellow fever and other vector-borne viral infections, plague, anthrax, human influenza caused by a new subtype, poliomyelitis due to wild-type polio virus, smallpox and SARS).
  • Strengthen the management of specific risks.
  • Sustain rights, obligations and procedures.
  • Conduct studies and monitor progress.