Points of entry: IHR, Annex 1b and relevant articles

While international transport, travel and trade contribute to economic development and the welfare of populations, they may also pose public health risks. Today's high traffic at points of entry – airports, ports and ground crossings – can play a key role in the international spread of diseases through persons, conveyances and goods. Points of entry provisions in the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) outline obligations and recommendations that enable countries to better prevent, prepare for and respond to these public health risks.

The IHR define a point of entry as "a passage for international entry or exit of travellers, baggage, cargo, containers, conveyances, goods and postal parcels, as well as agencies and areas providing services to them on entry or exit". Under the IHR, States Parties are requested to maintain effective public health measures and response capacity at designated points of entry in order to:

  • protect the health of travellers and populations;
  • ensure that ports, airports and ground crossings as well as ships, aircrafts and ground transportation are in a sanitary condition; and
  • contain risks at source, respond to emergencies and implement public health recommendations while limiting unnecessary health-based restrictions on international traffic and trade.

There are 3 types of points of entry:

  • international airports
  • ports
  • ground crossings.

Designation of points of entry

Based on a public health risk assessment, IHR States Parties designate ports and airports and may also designate ground crossings. The following criteria are used to help determine how many and which points of entry are relevant:

  1. population density around the point of entry;
  2. volume and frequency of traffic (travellers, cargo and conveyances);
  3. public health risks existing in areas in which the international traffic originates, or through which it passes, prior to arrival at the particular point of entry (risk analysis of the route);
  4. epidemiological situations in and around the point of entry;
  5. potential for dissemination of public health risks in a transportation chain involving the particular point of entry; and
  6. potential joint designation of ground crossings with a neighbouring country.

The number of designated points of entry varies from country to country and does not give any indication of a State Party's capacity. The process of designation helps to prioritize investment in developing and maintaining capacities at points of entry. In 2018, 583 such points of entry were designated in the European Region.