About the International Health Regulations

Dee Grimm

Emergency Management Professionals training on disaster preparedness and emergency management planning

The International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) provide an international legal framework to ensure global public health security. Binding on 196 countries, including all WHO Member States, the IHR require countries to implement and maintain the capacities necessary for detecting and responding to public health threats and to report on events which may constitute a potential public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

In an increasingly globalized world, diseases and public health threats can spread via international travel and trade, such that a health threat in one country may have consequences for economies and livelihoods in other parts of the world. These health threats include emerging infectious diseases; health sequelae resulting from natural or humanitarian disasters; chemical and radiological events; and even contamination to commercial food products.

The IHR are designed to help countries prevent and respond to acute public health risks that threaten borders, while also limiting interference with international traffic and trade.