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

Note from the Chairman of the IHR Review Committee


21 June 2010

Update on intersessional activities

As agreed during its first meeting in April 2010 the committee has continued its work through teleconference and electronic exchange.

Two rounds of teleconferences by each of the 5 technical subcommittees were held from 4 to 11 May and from 31 May to 4 June.

The three pandemic related technical sub-committees continued their review of

  • capacity and preparedness
  • alert and risk assessment
  • response

They organized their work according to decisions taken during the H1N1 (2009) pandemic.

A fourth technical subcommittee focused its work on reviewing the functions of the IHR with an emphasis on public health events outside of the pandemic as well as experiences, surveys and studies providing insights into progress with various aspects of IHR implementation.

The fifth technical subcommittee reviewed communication issues related both to the pandemic and the IHR.

All subcommittees continued their deliberations initiated during the April meeting to identify key issues and information needs. They also identified key groups of persons to be invited to assist in contributing to the review through interviews that the RC will conduct. These groups include national authorities at political and technical levels such as the IHR national focal points, international organizations including WHO secretariat, industry, media and critics. The first round of interviews will take place during the Second review committee meeting to be held at WHO HQ from 30 June to 2 July. The committee will conduct additional interviews during the summer and fall of this year.

During the intercessional period two members have withdrawn from the committee due to their concerns that their close association with the work of WHO during the H1N1 pandemic could be perceived as inconsistent with the Committee's role in providing an independent evaluation of this work. Although no longer members of the committee, both Professor John MacKenzie and Dr Tony Evans will continue to contribute to the work of the Review Committee when called upon to do so as expert witnesses.

The IHR review was on the agenda of Committee A of the WHA (item 11.2) The Chair of the Review Committee attended Committee A for these discussions, listened closely to interventions by Member States and responded to issues related to the Committee and the IHR review process.

The second meeting of the IHR Review Committee will be held at WHO HQ, Geneva from 30 June - 2 July 2010.

The proposed method of work for the second meeting will be as follows:

The Committee will meet in plenary session on Wednesday morning and afternoon and Thursday morning at which time the Review Committee members will give an update on their work, welcome interventions from States Parties, and conduct interviews with key involved individuals and stakeholders. The Committee will also hold deliberative sessions, in private (open to Committee members only), to compare impressions and develop possible findings, conclusions, and areas of recommendations.

The meeting will conclude with a plenary session scheduled for Friday afternoon that will focus on discussing and adopting the meeting report.

The working hours will be from 10:00 - 13:00 and 15:00- 18:00 each day.

As during the first meeting of the IHR Review Committee, Member States, the United Nations and its specialized agencies and other relevant intergovernmental or non governmental organizations in official relations with WHO are invited to send representatives to attend the plenary sessions of the committee.

The draft agenda for the meeting is included below.

Second IHR Review Committee Meeting
30 June - 2 July 2010
WHO Headquarters, Executive Board Room

Provisional agenda:

  • Welcome and introduction
  • Update on the intercessional work of the Committee
  • Statements by States Parties and invited organizations
  • Interviews by the Review Committee
  • Review Committee deliberative sessions
  • Discussion and adoption of the Report of the Second Meeting of the Review Committee
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