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

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2.2.2 The WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network

The central coordinating body within the WHO’s surveillance function is the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. There are now numerous international surveillance and response programmes (ISRPs), networks and online databases recording outbreaks of notifiable diseases, i.e. cases that health workers are legally required to notify (report) to a designated agency or public health officer.

The Global Influenza Surveillance Network illustrates the scope of one of the largest ISRPs: it consists of 111 national influenza detection centres in 83 countries around the world and four influenza reference laboratories in the USA, the UK, Japan and Australia. The reference laboratories collect and analyse influenza strains from the detection centres to give early warning of new variants that could pose a major risk to global health.

The IHRs incorporate the recognition that interventions that affect trade and travel also have the potential to affect the human rights of the individual.

  • Suggest some examples of interventions that have human rights implications for individual liberty and freedom to travel.

  • You might have considered border health checks and whether people who appear ill should be excluded or placed in compulsory quarantine. For example, during the swine flu pandemic, some airports introduced infrared cameras to identify and exclude passengers with a fever. Some countries require travellers to carry international vaccination certificates before they can enter, but this has implications for individuals who oppose vaccination and who may be prevented from travelling.