Bi-regional multi-country expert workshop to strengthen the capacity requirements for the International Health Regulations at ground crossings

Background

This bi-regional, multi-country expert workshop was held from June 25th-26th, 2013, at the Hotel Ashgabat in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

The workshop was organized and conducted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe), the WHO Regional Office for Eastern Mediterranean (WHO/EMRO), and the WHO Country Offices of Armenia and Iran. 19 participants from 11 Member States actively participated in the meeting.

The aim of the workshop was to bring together experts from neighbouring countries in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region to exchange experiences on IHR core capacity developments at points of entry (PoE) with a specific focus on ground crossings. Additionally, steps were taken to identify areas in need of support.

Findings

Exchanges between participants revealed that some areas of IHR implementation in PoE require more research, especially for vector control and coordination of non-health sectors. The workshop also indicated that insufficient human and financial resources have been dedicated to ensuring that States can effectively implement IHR at ground crossings.

This workshop, however, also revealed the value of information exchange between experts of neighbouring countries. Building and maintaining these open lines of communication between neighbouring nations is critical for productively responding to disease and environmental issues that threaten to cross borders. It is essential that this meeting is followed up with similar events to allow experts to exchange their insights, build relationships, and identify areas for future improvements that can be incorporated into guidelines for IHR implementation at PoE.