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Public Health (23-05-2005)

WHO Agreement on Revised International Health Regulations

Health Ministers and senior officials from 192 countries adopted the revised International Health Regulations (IHR) today, at the 58th World Health Assembly in Geneva. The new rules, which will enter into effect in 2007, require all public health threats with the potential to spread to be reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO), including natural disease outbreaks and also suspected “bio-terrorism” events (i.e. the deliberate release of biological agents). Until now, outbreaks of only 3 diseases – cholera, plague and yellow fever – have had to be notified to the WHO. Cooperation in responding to such events will also be strengthened by the revised IHR, while the WHO will assist its members in responding to public health threats.

The IHR were adopted in 1969 and have been updated twice since then (in 1973 and 1981). In May 2003, the World Health Assembly agreed to launch a review of these regulations, and the European Commission and 25 EU Member States have played a central role in negotiating the revision.

Click here for the WHO resolution containing the revised IHR

Click here for further information on the EU cooperation against health threats