National IHR Focal Points

Effective communication mechanisms at the country level and within WHO are essential to the timely detection of, assessment of and response to public health risks and events under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005). Article 4 of the IHR requires every country to designate a National IHR Focal Point (NFP), defined as "the national centre, which shall be accessible at all times for communications with the WHO IHR Contact Points" in the WHO regional offices. Each State Party is required to annually confirm with WHO the contact details of the NFP team.

Each NFP is responsible for fulfilling 2 key functions as defined by the IHR.

  1. National communication hub: NFPs must remain accessible at all times (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) for communications with WHO IHR Contact Points. As outlined in Articles 6–12 of the IHR, NFPs can share relevant information on public health risks and events and consult with WHO on risks, events and appropriate measures. 
  2. National coordination hub: NFPs must disseminate information to relevant national sectors, including those responsible for surveillance and reporting, points of entry, public health services, clinics and hospitals, and other government departments.

WHO also recommends additional functions to ensure successful implementation of the IHR at the country level. These recommendations can be found in the National IHR Focal Point Guide.