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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 01 February, 2020

  • 3 Min Read

Global Health Emergency

Syllabus subtopic: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the coronavirus outbreak and its effect on the world; reasons for WHO declaring it a global health emergency

News: The death toll in China from the new coronavirus reached 213, with overall cases worldwide rising rapidly in an outbreak that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency.

Reason for the declaration

The WHO was declaring a global health emergency because it was concerned about the virus spreading to countries that did not have the resources to deal with it.

Measures to be taken after declaration

  • The WHO move will trigger tighter containment and information-sharing guidelines to all countries.

  • The impact of the virus on the rest of China and on the world would have been less if the containment measures had been implemented sooner.

International Health Regulations (2005) Procedures concerning public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC)

  • PHEIC procedures

Some serious public health events that endanger international public health may be determined under the Regulations to be public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC). The term Public Health Emergency of International Concern is defined in the IHR (2005) as “an extraordinary event which is determined, as provided in these Regulations:

  1. to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease; and
  2. to potentially require a coordinated international response”.

This definition implies a situation that: is serious, 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 the WHO Director-General and requires the convening of a committee of experts – the IHR Emergency Committee. This committee advises the Director General on the recommended measures to be promulgated on an emergency basis, known as temporary recommendations. Temporary recommendations include health measures to be implemented by the State Party experiencing the PHEIC, or by other States Parties, to prevent or reduce the international spread of disease and avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic.

  • The Emergency Committee also gives advice on the determination of the event as a PHEIC in circumstances where there is inconsistency in the assessment of the event between the Director-General and the affected country/countries. The Emergency Committee continues to provide advice to the Director-General throughout the duration of the PHEIC, including any necessary changes to the recommended measures and on the determination of PHEIC termination. WHO maintains an IHR roster of experts and the members of an IHR Emergency Committee are selected from this roster and/or WHO expert advisory panels and committees. At least one member of the Emergency Committee should be an expert nominated by a State Party within whose territory the event arises.

Source: The Hindu


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