International Health Regulations (IHR)

International Health Regulations

The International Health Regulations (IHR) are an international legal instrument that covers measures for preventing the transnational spread of infectious diseases.

The IHR were adopted by the 58th World Health Assembly in 2005 through Resolution WHA58.3. They constitute the legal framework that, inter alia, defines national core capacities, including at points of entry, for the management of acute public health events of potential or actual national and international concern, as well as related administrative procedures.

The IHR (2005) has as purpose and scope "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."


Meeting the requirements in the IHR (2005) is a challenge that requires time, commitment and the willingness to change. This paper has been developed to guide WHO Member States and other countries that are parties to the Regulations in the implementation of the obligations contained in them. Section 4 sets out seven areas of work to assist countries with the challenges inherent in meeting the new obligations.

Each area of work has a specific goal that contributes to the over-arching goal of international public health security, and each area of work will be the subject of one or more detailed implementation plans.

The seven areas of work for IHR (2005) implementation: 

  • Foster global partnerships
  • Strengthen national disease prevention, surveillance, control and response systems
  • Strengthen public health security in travel and transport
  • Strengthen WHO global alert and response systems
  • Strengthen the management of specific risks
  • Sustain rights, obligations and procedures
  • Conduct studies and monitor progress

Seven Strategic actions to guide IHR (2005) Implementation

Seven Strategic actions to guide IHR (2005) Implementation

In a closely interdependent world, global partnerships are essential to the successful implementation of the IHR. Partnership is required between all countries to share technical skills and resources, to support capacity strengthening at all levels, to support each other in times of crisis and promote transparency.

Partnership between different sectors (e.g. health, agriculture, travel, trade, education, defence) is also essential to build coherent alert and response systems which cover all public health threats, and, at the time of events, are able to rapidly mobilize the required resources in a flexible and responsive way.

IHR Implementation Partnerships

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