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.
Advertisement"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."
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Mr Iain Simpson - Communications Officer
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