A major step was initiated by World Health
Organization's (WHO) authority to verify disease
outbreaks from all available official and unofficial
sources, soon after any outbreak of infectious
diseases and other threats to international public
health. In a crucial decision it was decided that when
necessary WHO would carry out a through on-the-spot
investigations to determine the severity of an
outbreak and to ensure it is appropriately controlled.
International Health Regulations were first published
in 1969. This regulations limit mandatory reporting to
just a few diseases and was written for a different
era. The process of revising these regulations has
been placed on a strong footing by the Assembly, which
has also urged all Member States to establish an
improved system to ensure rapid two-way communication
between WHO and the national authorities.
"This is an extremely significant step for
international public health," said Dr Gro Harlem
Brundtland, Director-General of WHO. "SARS has shown
us the size of the challenges we face. These new
measures will help us respond even more effectively to
the next public health threat."
Member States noted that "national and international
experiences with SARS contribute lessons that can
improve preparedness for responding to, and mitigating
the public health, economic, and social consequences
of the next emerging infectious disease, the next
influenza pandemic, and the possible use of a
biological agent to cause harm."
The Member States also called on WHO "to take into
account evidence, experiences, knowledge and lessons
acquired during the SARS response when revising the
International Health Regulations."
For more information contact:
Mr Iain Simpson - Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 3215
Mobile phone: +41 79 475 5534