On the 30th of January 2020,
the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the 2019-nCoV outbreak
a Public Health Emergency Of International Concern
with 7,818 cases confirmed globally, affecting 19 countries.
In the Philippines,
there is 1 confirmed case and 27 under investigation.
What is a Public Health Emergency of Internation Concern (PHEIC)?
A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
is a formal declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO)
of "an extraordinary event which is determined
to constitute a public health risk to other States
through the international spread of disease
and to potentially require a coordinated international response",
formulated when a situation arises
that is "serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected",
which "carries implications for public health
beyond the affected State's national border"
and "may require immediate international action".
A PHEIC is not only confined to infectious diseases,
and may cover an emergency caused by a chemical agent
or a radio nuclear material.
It is a "call to action" and "last resort" measure.
The WHO should be notified
if any 2 of the 4 following questions are affirmed:
1. Is the public health impact of the event serious?
2. Is the event unusual or unexpected?
3. Is there a significant risk for international spread?
4. Is there a significant risk for international travel or trade restrictions?
Under the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR),
States have a legal duty to respond promptly to a PHEIC.
What is the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR)?
The International Health Regulations (2005)
are a legally binding instrument of international law that aims to:
1. Assist countries to work together to save lives and livelihoods endangered by the international spread of diseases and other health risks and
2. Avoid unnecessary interference with international trade and travel.
The purpose and scope of IHR 2005
are 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 that avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.
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