Alert, response, and capacity building under the International Health Regulations (IHR)

Public Health Emergency Operations Centre Network (EOC-NET)

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A public health emergency operations centre (EOC) is the central location where responsible personnel gather to coordinate operational information and resources for strategic management of public health events and emergencies, especially those that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Effective communication and coordination within and between EOCs and response systems are critical for the success of public health emergency response.

EOCs in various organizations—whether at the local, national, regional or international level—use different terminologies, procedures, and communication and information tools. They have different ranges of functions and levels of capacities. The range of hazards covered, the procedures, the information sources, the communication technologies used and the flow of operational information often vary. These variations and developments pose substantial challenges for interoperability essential to effective communication and collaboration between EOCs and response systems.

Many Member States are establishing or improving their EOCs to strengthen their coordination and response capacity. WHO’s Department of Global Capacities, Alert and Response (GCR) is taking the lead in supporting public health EOCs to have the capacity for effective public health responses. GCR launched the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre Network (EOC-NET) during a Consultation Meeting in November 2012. Representatives from WHO headquarters and regional offices, Member States, regional and international organizations endorsed this initiative and committed to collaborate through EOC-NET. The participants agreed on terms of reference for EOC-NET and proposed four working groups to work on identified priority areas.

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