Eight countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region have completed the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), a voluntary and important component of the IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. The countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-leste. DPRK has initiated JEE process which is expected to be completed in 2019. The JEE helps countries identify critical gaps within their health systems, as well as their priorities for action, to strengthen their preparedness for a public health emergency and resource mobilization. The results of the JEE inform the development of National Action Plans for Health Security (NAPHS).
The International Health Regulations or IHR(2005) is one of the most potent tools to safeguard the world from disease outbreaks and public health emergencies, because it is a legal framework that binds Member countries and WHO to certain obligations aimed at containing the spread of diseases between countries. To fully implement IHR(2005), appropriate legal frameworks are needed at the national level. The challenge is that, countries have very different requirements, and that existing legislation, policies, regulations and requirements currently support IHR implementation to varying degrees. Therefore, WHO SEARO is working with Member States to review the current status of national legal frameworks to support IHR implementation, identify gaps, and provide guidance on how authorities might revise their legal instruments.
Building outbreak response capacity in SEAR
The IHR (2005) requires WHO to respond to any Member State request for support to an outbreak, but large events can easily outstrip WHO internal capacity. To help address this, a training workshop on “Strengthening Regional Capacity for Outbreak Response”, was held from 27 Nov to 3 Dec 2012, in Medan and Berastagi, Indonesia, to train experts who can be deployed at short notice. The training, conducted in collaboration with the Global Alert and Response Network (GOARN), included a realistic simulation of an outbreak ‘in the field’. Subsequently, many of the 24 participants, who are from the SEA Region, and from Cambodia, China, Japan and Singapore, have been identified as suitable for future deployment by WHO in the event of an outbreak.
Fourth Regional Meeting on the Implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005)
The fourth Regional Meeting on the Implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) was held on 7-9 December 2011, in Bangkok, Thailand. In his opening remarks, Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said , “An important requisite for effective implementation of IHR by Member States is the core capacity of countries. Such capacity should have a mechanism for efficient inter-sectoral coordination, as well as an appropriate legislation to ensure effective enforcement of necessary measures.” He emphasized the need to strengthen core capacities as a priority.