Risk assessment is the process of evaluating the probability and consequences of injury or an event arising from exposure to identified risks.
It is an interactive process that is initiated upon the detection of an event and continues until such event is under control. Risk assessment requires an interdisciplinary approach and the participation of technical experts, PAHO country offices and IHR National Focal Points.
Following a risk assessment, the IHR Annex 2 decision instrument for the assessment and notification of events is used by Member States to decide whether an acute public heath event requires formal notification to the WHO. The effective use of Annex 2 depends on the national authorities of each country and their respective IHR National Focal Point (NFP) who carry out the risk assessments of public health events occurring within their territories.
Recently the WHO published guidelines describing when and how to apply Annex 2 to real situations.
:: Decision instrument for the notification of events
To determine if an event must be notified to the WHO Contact Point, Member States must use the following criteria:
Any event that meets any two out of the four criteria must be reported. The notification must be made within 24 hours of the assessment made in accordance with the decision instrument of the IHR (2005) Annex 2.
Following notification, communication must continue with accurate and sufficiently detailed public health information on the notified event, where possible including case definitions, laboratory results, source and type of the risk, number of cases and deaths, conditions affecting the spread of the disease and the health measures employed.
In addition, four conditions (smallpox, poliomyelitis due to wild-type poliovirus, human influenza cased by a new subtype, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)) must be reported to the WHO as they are inherently considered unusual or unexpected and may have serious public health impact.
Risk assessment is an ongoing process that can support one or more of the following actions at any point in time:
:: Available guidance
Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization