International Health Regulations (2005): Areas of work for implementation


The World Health Organization published this paper – International Health Regulations (2005): Areas of work for implementation – in June 2007, to guide States in implementing the International Health Regulations (2005).

The World Health Assembly – the decision-making body of the WHO – adopted the International Health Regulations (IHR) on May 23, 2005, in its 58th meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The purpose of the Regulations, Article 2 of the IHR notes, is “…to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.” The IHR entered into force on June 15, 2007.

This paper contains four sections: an executive summary (Section 1); the IHR’s background (Section 2); its vision and goals (Section 3); and ‘Areas of work and expected results’ (Section 4).

The IHR’s goals, the paper states, are the formation of strong national public health systems for the surveillance of diseases and public health events, and an international system that supports disease control programmes to contain specific public health threats. The 32-page paper identifies seven ‘areas of work’ for States Parties to achieve the IHR’s goals; the following are the excerpts: 

Foster global partnerships: The paper asserts that the WHO, States and relevant sectors (such as health, agriculture, travel, trade and education) should collaborate to mobilise the necessary resources, and provide the best possible technical support, for the effective and timely implementation of the IHR.

Strengthen national disease prevention, surveillance, control and response systems: State Parties should assess their resources for disease surveillance and response, and develop national action plans to implement the IHR’s clauses, in order to rapidly detect and respond to any risk of diseases spreading internationally.

Strengthen public health security in travel and transport: Implementing public health measures at designated airports, ports and ground crossings in all countries – the paper states – minimises the risk of diseases spreading internationally.

Strengthen WHO global alert and response systems: The paper notes that there should be a timely and coordinated response to international public health risks and public health emergencies of international concern.

Strengthen the management of specific risks: The paper recommends the systematic international and national management of risks which are known to threaten ‘international health security’, such as influenza, meningitis, yellow fever, poliomyelitis, food contamination, and chemical and radioactive substances.

Sustain rights, obligations and procedures: All professionals involved in implementing the IHR should have a clear understanding of the rights, obligations and procedures laid out in the Regulations.

Conduct studies and monitor progress: The implementation of the IHR should be monitored and evaluated at national and international levels.

Focus by Pratik Dixit and Archita Joshi.

PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


World Health Organization


World Health Organization


Jun, 2007