Third meeting of the National Focal Points (NFP) for the International Health Regulations (IHR) in the European Region, Luxembourg, 9-10 July 2008

The aim was to promote a harmonized regional approach for the implementation of the IHR, including exchange of experiences, and mutual support and coordination in the WHO European Region. It was organized by the European Commission with the technical collaboration of WHO. Invited States Parties included European Union (EU) Member States, Andorra, the Holy See, Iceland, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland.

Background

Each State Party is required to designate a NFP and authorities responsible within its respective jurisdiction for the implementation of the IHR (IHR Article 4). The NFP shall disseminate information to and consolidate input from relevant sectors and shall be accessible at all times for communication with the WHO IHR contact point.

Further to the above, 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 maintain a set of core capacities with regard to surveillance and response at local/community, intermediate and national public health levels (IHR Annex 1A). Certain core capacities also need to be maintained at designated points of entry (airports, ports and ground crossings) (IHR Annex 1B). Each State Party shall assess national structures and resources for their ability to meet these minimum core capacity requirements. National action plans were to be developed by 14 June 2009 to ensure that the core capacities are present and functioning throughout the State Party’s territory by 14 June 2012.

The IHR implementation process poses a challenge to States Parties, notably owing to the IHR’s broad scope, their all-hazards and multisectoral approach, and the related assessment, planning and resource mobilization for strengthening of capacities. WHO/Europe, in compliance with its obligations (IHR Annex 1A, Paragraph 3), seeks to assist States Parties in the WHO European Region in their efforts to implement the IHR.