Preparedness Surveillance and Response

Unexpected and often unpredictable emergencies can occur at any given time.
They can inflict significant human suffering, including loss of life, and serious economic damage.

WHO/Europe, with support from WHO headquarters and many partners, helps countries in the WHO European Region to prepare for and respond to health emergencies by offering:

  • Technical guidance
  • Support and coordination in the field, on risk assessment and emergency preparedness, response and recovery
  • It takes an all-hazard approach to prepare for the various types of public health emergency that may arise, such as epidemics, chemical spills, contaminated food or natural disaster, regardless of the source.

International Health Regulations

On 15 June 2007, the International Health Regulations (IHR) came into force; this was a major achievement for the international reporting and collective response to acute public health risks. The IHR is a unique global framework for health security, involving 196 countries worldwide, including all WHO Member States.

Under the IHR:

  • Countries committed themselves to making timely reports to WHO of any events that may constitute public health emergencies of international concern, and to follow a number of rules and procedures for coordinating international response
  • Countries also committed themselves to strengthening their national surveillance, preparedness, and response systems in order to contain health emergencies at source.

This was a major step towards a safer world through the rapid detection and international containment of emerging diseases and other acute public health risks.