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4 Dec 2012

Zambia hosts regional meeting for mapping of unmet country needs to accelerate the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) in the Africa Region (WHO/AFRO, December 4 2012)

[Source: World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, full page: (LINK). Edited.]

Zambia hosts regional meeting for mapping of unmet country needs to accelerate the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) in the Africa Region (Sabou Ghislain)

Lusaka, 04 December 2012 -- The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) in collaboration with WHO Global Capacities, Alert and Response has organized a regional meeting for mapping of unmet country needs to accelerate the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) in the African Region. Since the IHR (2005) came into force in 2007, many countries in the WHO African Region have developed IHR implementation plans and improved their surveillance and response capacities.

However, a significant number of Member States still have limited capacity to effectively and comprehensively prepare for, investigate and respond to public health emergencies of international concern. There are gaps and weaknesses relating to other IHR core capacities particularly legislation, preparedness, risk communication, human resources, food safety, chemical and radio-nuclear.

Many countries faced challenges in fulfilling the obligation to have established the core capacities for detection and response to all hazards by the deadline of 15 June 2012, and have applied for a 2 year extension.

In view of the new deadline of June 15, 2014, this 4 days stakeholder meeting has been convened to provide a forum for governments, technical agencies, foundations, academia and donors to share experiences and challenges in IHR implementation and to identify the next steps in IHR core capacity development.

The meeting will permit countries discuss the achievements in IHR implementation, assess vulnerabilities, identify strategies to address existing gaps and to harness and commit resources to support the matched needs and priorities. It is also expected that the meeting will critically assess the contributions that all stake holders could make in supporting countries in IHR Implementation using their different comparative advantages and to strengthen inter-sectoral collaboration, inter-country cooperation and global health security.

The IHR meeting was officially opened on 3rd December 2012 by the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Patrick Chikusu. In his remarks, Dr. Chikusu stated that countries in the African Region were lagging behind in strengthening their national core capacities of the International Health Regulations and that the delay was a major concern for global health security.

Dr. Chikusu said that Africa had a huge task of responding to matters of international health in the face of rapid globalization which posed a number of public health threats. He said that the IHR was a critical instrument for maintaining public health and called upon countries to work towards developing all the required twelve minimum IHR (2005) core capacities to safeguard international public health security.

Speaking at the same ceremony, Director for the World Health Organization Global Capacities, Alert and Response, Dr. Isabell Nuttall said that the World was faced with unanticipated and unexpected public health risks which were more complex with bigger geographical impact. She said that the IHR was a modern and solid foundation to help countries detect and strengthen response to public health threats. She stated that more was needed to be done in Africa to develop the core capacities of the IHR for the benefit of global community.

The meeting has brought together more than 80 participants from 22 countries, who include; National IHR focal points from Ministries of Health, Representatives from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), US Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), European Union, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Germany government and Members of the WHO Secretariat from WHO Country Offices, WHO Regional Office and WHO Headquarters. Countries represented include Botswana, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The IHR 2005 is an international legal instrument that is binding on 194 countries across the world, including all the Member States of WHO. The IHR helps the international community to prevent and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people worldwide.

In the globalized world, diseases can spread far and wide via international travel and trade. A health crisis in one country can impact livelihoods and economies in many parts of the world. WHO is working closely with countries and partners to provide technical guidance and support to mobilize the resources needed to implement the new rules in an effective and timely manner.  

Zambia hosts regional meeting for mapping of unmet country needs to accelerate the implementation of the international health regulations (2005) in the Africa region [pdf: 451.06 kB]

For more information contact: Nora Mweemba, Health Information and Promotion Officer. / WHO Country Office, UN ANNEX BUILDING, Plot 4609, Corner of Andrew Mwenya and Beit Roads, Rhodes Park, P.O. Box 32346, Lusaka, Zambia., E-mail:, GPN: 37609, Tel No: 00-260-211-255 398 / 255 336 / 255 322, Mobile : 260 - 977873976, Fax: 00-260-211-252863