Regional Workshop of IHR National Focal Points in the WHO South-East Asia Region, 25-29 March 2019, New Delhi, India
The first SEAR NFP+, a regional network of International Health Regulations (IHR) National Focal Points (NFPs) and other IHR core capacity experts, was agreed to at the “ Regional Workshop of IHR national Focal Points in the WHO South-East Asia Region”, held in 25-29 March in New Delhi. This is one of several achievements of the Workshop, which was held to further enhance implementation of the IHR (2005) and ensure continuous capacity building of NFPs.
The workshop brought together IHR National Focal Points, Risk Communication/Community Engagement Focal Points and focal points for Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework (PIP) from all Eleven Member States of the Region.
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.