WHO Emergency Committee Meeting on Ebola

6-7 AUGUST 2014 ¦ WHO is convening an Emergency Committee meeting in order to ascertain whether the ongoing outbreak of Ebola Viral Disease in West Africa constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern: (PHEIC) and, if it does, to recommend appropriate temporary measures to reduce risk for international spread.

The term “public health emergency for international concern” is defined in the International Health Regulations (IHR-2005) as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through international spread of disease and to potentially require coordinated international response”. This definition implies a situation that is:

  • Serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected;
  • Carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border; and
  • May require immediate international action

The responsibility of determining whether an event is within this category lies with WHO Director-General. The WHO Director-General may seek the views of the IHR Emergency Committee, which is composed of international experts in the field of disease control, virology, vaccine development or infectious disease epidemiology.

“The scale of the Ebola outbreak, and the persistent threat it poses, requires… to take the response to a new level, and this will require increased resources, in-country medical expertise, regional preparedness and coordination,” says Dr Chan. “The countries have identified what they need, and WHO is reaching out to the international community to drive the response plan forward.”

The scale of the ongoing outbreak is unprecedented, with approximately 1323 confirmed and suspected cases reported, and 729 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since March 2014.