Canada and the International Health Regulations (IHR)

Establishing public health core capacity requirements for countries worldwide to aid in the detection, prevention, assessment, notification, and response to the international spread of disease and public health risks.

What are the IHR?

Our world is growing closer and more connected every day. The increase in volume in international travel and trade have promoted economic growth and raised the quality of life in many countries. Unfortunately, these same modern achievements create the potential for the international spread of disease.

The World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) and WHO Member States adopted the International Health Regulations in 2005 to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease including potential public health emergencies of international concern (see Annex 2). The IHR came into force in 2007. Pursuant to these regulations Member States are legally required to develop and maintain public health core capacity requirements to protect global public health from the spread of diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), new subtypes of influenza, as well as the impact of public health risks such as food-borne illnesses, chemical spills or nuclear accidents that have the potential to cross international borders.

What is Canada's role in the IHR?

Canada has confirmed its ability to meet the public health core capacities requirements needed to collaborate in IHR global efforts.

Among these requirements is the ability to carry out: surveillance, reporting, notification, verification, response and collaboration activities across the country and at points of entry (designated airports, ports, and ground crossings with international traffic). Canada has also established an IHR National Focal Point as required under the IHR (Art. 4) for rapid communication with Canadian public health authorities, the WHO and its regional office, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and other countries.

Canada continues to work towards strengthening and improving its public health core capacities through an IHR National Action Plan. This includes promoting the purpose and role of the IHR to all Canadian public health professionals.

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