Workshop on ship and sanitation issues related to the International Health Regulations (IHR), Hamburg, Germany, 26–28 May 2008
The objective was to facilitate the establishment of IHR core capacity at ports in the States Parties of the WHO European Region. This included:
- enabling public health workers to implement the requirements of the current IHR according to WHO standards;
- sharing knowledge and procedures relating to international health controls at ports and on ships;
- stimulating collaboration and communication between ports regarding mutual port health authorities’ audit, issuance of ship sanitation certificates (SSC) and standardization of ship inspection procedures;
- introducing the “recommended procedures for inspection and issuance of ship sanitation certificate” elaborated by WHO; and
- field-testing the training concept and training material for inspection and issuance of SSC developed by WHO under the current IHR.
Under the IHR, points of entry (PoE) are passages 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. This includes airports, ports and ground crossings. PoE play an important role in controlling the international spread of diseases. In order to detect, assess (as per instrument in IHR Annex 2), notify, report, and respond to events of potential international public health concern, States Parties are required to develop and maintain a set of core capacities at the PoE for surveillance and response at the local/community, intermediate and national public health levels (IHR Annex 1A).
The implementation of the IHR at the PoE poses a challenge to States Parties worldwide. WHO/Europe, in compliance with its obligations (IHR Annex 1A, Paragraph 3), seeks to assist States Parties in the European Region in their efforts to implement the IHR. Countries specifically asked WHO to lead training on IHR capacity-building process at ports and airports. In response to these requests, WHO developed teaching and guidance material in consultation with the leading experts in the field. The contribution of the Hamburg Port Health Centre of the Central Institute for Occupational and Maritime Medicine was pivotal to this process.
This was the first workshop to field test the materials developed. It was targeted to port health officers from port health authorities in the WHO European Region. The Hamburg Port Health Centre of the Central Institute for Occupational and Maritime Health hosted and supported the workshop.