As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Health Regulations (IHR) and countries’ adherence to IHR guidance are coming under scrutiny and review. The IHR constitute a legal and governance framework that guides countries in responding to serious disease events while avoiding unnecessary interference with international trade and traffic. The IHR require States Parties to designate or establish national IHR focal points to facilitate information sharing about disease events with WHO, which makes these focal points critical in the effective implementation of the IHR within and between countries. On behalf of the State Party concerned, national focal points are responsible for timely notification to WHO of relevant health events, responding to WHO Secretariat requests for event-related information, and ensuring that messages and advice from WHO are disseminated to the relevant sectors within the country.
A review of the 2013–2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa found deficiencies in the functioning of national focal points.4 Published studies have also identified technical and political challenges to the notification of events by focal points to WHO. At the request of WHO, we evaluated the ability of focal points to carry out their IHR functions through 25 in-depth interviews and 105 online quantitative surveys. Here we present summary findings and recommendations emerging from our study; survey methods and results have been previously published.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 99, Issue 7, Pp. 536–538. doi:10.2471/BLT.20.270116
Scholarly Commons Citation
Wilson, Kumanan; Halabi, Sam F.; Hollmeyer, Helge; Gostin, Lawrence O.; Fidler, David P.; Packer, Corinne; Wilson, Lindsay; and Labonté, Ronald, "National focal points and implementation of the International Health Regulations" (2021). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2393.