Strengthening health security by implementing the International Health Regulations (2005)

Core functions of the IHR

<b>Prevent<b/><br />Build capacity in countries to minimize disease and prevent the escalation of public health emergencies.<br /><br /><b>Detect<b/><br />Gather and analyze public health data to rapidly detect health security risks as they develop.<br /><br /><b>Inform<b/><br />Keep stakeholders informed with essential facts about public health events that affect them, and report public health risks to WHO.<br /><br /><b>Respond<b/><br />Protect public health by responding with actions and resources where and when they are needed.<br /><br /><b>Facilitate<b/><br />Coordinate WHO's work with partners so that together we can help countries build capacity for health security.
The IHR help countries to prevent, detect, inform about and respond to public health events in a facilitated manner.

In today’s connected world, health security is a global issue. We must all protect ourselves, and each other, from threats like infectious diseases, chemical and radiological events.

That is why 196 countries have agreed to work together to prevent and respond to public health crises. The agreement is called the International Health Regulations, or IHR (2005), and WHO plays the coordinating role.

Through the IHR, WHO keeps countries informed about public health risks, and works with partners to help countries build capacity to detect, report and respond to public health events.

IHR Emergency Committee

The Emergency Committee is made up of international experts to provide technical advice to the WHO Director-General in the context of a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC). Depending on the circumstances, the Emergency Committee may advise on whether or not a PHEIC is occurring . If the Director-General determines that the event constitutes a PHEIC, the Emergency Committee will then provide advice on appropriate Temporary Recommendations of health measures to be implemented by States Parties. As a PHEIC proceeds, the Emergency Committee continues to provide advice to the Director-General.

Latest guidance

WHO-OIE Operational Framework for Governance at the Human-animal Interface: Bridging WHO and OIE tools for the assessment of national capacities

The WHO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) have developed frameworks to help their Member States assess the capacities in respectively the human and animal health sectors and identify gaps to comply with both the IHR (2005) requirements and the OIE standards. Taking advantage of the experience in overseeing implementation of the IHR (2005) and the OIE’s Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) programme, they have jointly published the Operational Framework, which uses their outcomes and outputs in a structured methodology enabling the identification of synergies and opportunities for intersectoral collaboration.


Strengthening the competencies, including the knowledge and skills, of public health personnel is critical to the sustainment of public health surveillance and response at all levels of the health system and the effective implementation of the IHR.

WHO provides leadership and contributes to building the capacity of public health professionals working on the implementation of the IHR; it has fostered the development and offers a variety of learning solutions, including training activities, materials and tools, tailored to specific needs of public health workers and partner institutions.

In focus


  • 13–14 November 2014

    IHR Review Committee on national public health capacities

    The Committee was convened to advise on requests from IHR States Parties on extensions for establishing national public health core capacities to detect and respond to events and emergencies, and on how to better strengthen and assess these capacities.

IHR national capacities

All States Parties are required to have or to develop minimum core public health capacities to implement the IHR (2005) effective in accordance with articles 5 and 13 of the IHR (2005).