The implementation of International Health Regulations (IHR) is in the interest of all of us. We live in a global village where passengers, cargos, vectors and diseases travel at jet speed around the world and are easily spread. Hence the importance of evaluating our IHR core capacities so that we can meet international standards.

This statement was made yesterday by the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, at the opening of a four-day validation workshop on the Joint External Evaluation to assess the implementation of the IHR (2005) held at Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial Resort & Spa, Flic en Flac.

He underlined that the IHR require all member states to reach international standards in 12 core capacities adding that Mauritius has proactively taken the necessary steps to strengthen the required core capacities. He pointed out that Mauritius has continuously assessed its core capacities and will now be conducting its self-assessment by an external team.

Referring to IHR 2005, Dr Husnoo highlighted that it is a set of international legal instrument that covers measures to prevent public health emergency of international concerns and at the same time to limit interference with travel and trade. This new IHR 2005 has been updated from IHR 1969 which only looked at four diseases. The new IHR 2005 has been formulated in light of events that have happened in the world particularly the outbreak of SARS Virus in 2006 and other public health emergency like radioactivity and chemical intoxications, he said.

The Health Minister also dwelt on the need for a multisectoral approach to detect, assess, report and respond to any public health emergency of international concern. According to him, notable progress has been made in areas such as legislation, preparedness, coordination, control at border, and chemical safety. They include: modification of existing Quarantine and Public Health Regulation to meet the requirement of IHR 2005; formulation of action plans to respond to public health emergency; setting up of an intersectoral committee to deal with IHR related matters; modification of Quarantaine law to meet the IHR requirement for border control particularly for ship sanitation and maritime declaration; and signing of an international protocol and having a response planned to deal with a chemical event.

International Health Regulations
In response to the exponential increase in international travel and trade, and emergence and reemergence of international disease threats and other health risks, 194 countries across the globe have agreed to implement the IHR 2005. This binding instrument of international law entered into force on 15 June 2007.
The stated purpose and scope of the IHR are “to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.” Because the IHR are not limited to specific diseases, but are applicable to health risks, irrespective of their origin or source, they will follow the evolution of diseases and the factors affecting their emergence and transmission. The IHR also require States to strengthen core surveillance and response capacities at the primary, intermediate and national level, as well as at designated international ports, airports and ground crossings. They further introduce a series of health documents, including ship sanitation certificates and an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis for travelers.
Finally, this second edition includes a new foreword and the Health Part of the Aircraft General Declaration (as revised by the International Civil Aviation Organization), as well as Appendices listing States Parties to the IHR and reservations, objections and declarations received from States Parties.

Source: Government of Mauritius