Strengthening Capacity of IHR Countries: High Level Conference Held in France

May 4, 2016

IANPHI Secretariat, France

On 22 and 23 March 2016, the European Commission and the French Government co-organized a high level conference on global health security in Lyon, France with WHO and the Dutch presidency of the European Union. President Hollande (France) and President Zuma (South-Africa) concluded the Conference.

The aim of the conference was to highlight the need to accelerate the implementation of IHR after several large epidemics: H1N1, Ebola, Zika and in context of the preparation of the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2016. The program, the presentations, the conclusions are now available in English.

The Chair of the IHR review panel presented the draft conclusions to be finalized in the coming weeks and presented at the WHA in May 2016. The most important message that came out of the meeting is the need to accelerate the implementation of IHR rather than change IHR.

Several presenters highlighted the progress made in agreeing on the common external evaluation tool of country capacities by combining tools developed under the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) (Joint external evaluation tool, 2016) which end to one single tool for all countries. The different WHO regional offices will be looking for experts able to take part in such external evaluation panels.

The value and benefit of transparent external evaluations complementary to the self-evaluations of countries capacities were underlined.

The one health and the inter-sectoral approaches need to be deepened to speed up progress. The collaboration between sectors, particularly between animal health and human health is essential for building trust and common understanding. It requires transparency. The role of the veterinary services, the efforts and experiences of the animal health sector were presented as key to achieve global health security. The experience of the World Organization for Animal Health (OEI) in the implementation of external and transparent evaluations was underlined in several occasions.

There was a univocal message that without strong health systems health security cannot be achieved. This requires investment, financial support, strong partnerships and international action. 

It was also emphasize in several presentations that increased capacity at the national and local level is essential to control outbreaks at a very early stage. The weakness of international solidarity to lower resourced countries at an early stage was acknowledged. This should be changed given lessons learned with the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

The WHO – Lyon office (France) should play an active role in the implementation of IHR through capacity building in the years to come.

More work on preparedness is to be done.