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

Astana, 1- 2 October 2013

Background

Point of Entry (PoE) play an important role in controlling the international spread of diseases. In order to detect, assess, notify, report, and respond to events of potential international public health concern, States Parties are required to develop and maintain core capacities at the PoE for surveillance and response at the local/community, intermediate and national public health levels (IHR Annex 1B).

The implementation of the IHR at the PoE poses a challenge to States Parties worldwide. WHO/Europe, in compliance with its obligations seeks to assist States Parties in the European Region in their efforts to implement the IHR.

This bi- regional, multi country workshop was organised and conducted by the WHO Regional Offices for Europe (WHO/Europe) and Western Pacific (WHO/WPRO) and the WHO Country Office of Kazakhstan in Astana on 1- 2 October 2013. It brought together 20 senior experts working in the National IHR Focal Points as well as experts working on the implementation of core capacity requirements for designated ground crossings from Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Scope and Purpose

The general objective of this workshop was to gather experts from neighboring countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and China on IHR core capacity developments at ground crossings to:

  • share experiences and best practice on the implementation of IHR core capacities at points of entry with a focus on ground crossings;
  • discuss practical issues and problems around IHR core capacities at ground crossings;
  • identify gaps and areas of controversy in building these IHR core capacities;
  • facilitate a coherent process for the development of IHR core capacities at ground crossings between in the WHO European and Western Pacific Region;
  • discuss existing guidance material and to give an update on recommendations;
    identify next steps and further needs for support;
  • facilitate bilateral dialogue among countries for further activities which can prospectively help to support the capacity building process in the WHO European and Western Pacific Region.

Conclusion

The expert workshop concluded with several areas for follow up and further work:

  • Development of standardized guideline material and recommendations for IHR implementation at ground crossings (multi-sectoral coordination, SOP relating to cross border coordination)
  • In general, it is more about programmes to control emerging threats from global travel and trade, including as well ground crossings, than about capacities at ground crossings
  • Training material for custom inspectors
  • Lack of human and financial resources
  • Risk communication strategies

This workshop also revealed the value of communication and information exchange between experts of neighbouring countries. Further meetings as well as bi- national training opportunities will be an essential next step to build and maintain relationships as well as prepare for joint designations of ground crossings.