Under the coordination of the PAHO/WHO Preparedness for Health Emergencies Program (PHE), the Formal Regional Consultation 2017 about the International Health Regulations (IHR) was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 17-19. The event gathered more than 80 specialists from 30 Member Countries of the Organization, and was coordinated by Dr Ciro Ugarte and Dr Roberta Andraghetti, together with PAHO/WHO Brazil, and had the support of BIREME in the local organization.
The event was organized based on the following:
– The Decision of the World Assembly of the World Health Organization WHA70-(11) from May 22-31, 2017, regarding International Health Regulations; and
– WHO Communication regarding the instructions for the “5-year Strategic World Plan to improve public health preparedness and response”, mentioned in Decision WHA70-(11), to be included in the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference/69th Regional WHO Committee for the Americas, to be held in Washington DC, USA, on September 25-29, 2017.
The Formal Regional Consultation about the IHR aimed to offer Member Countries the opportunity to consolidate their position before the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference/69th Regional WHO Committee for the Americas; and write out the Consultation Notice to meet the deadline of the Organization’s Directive Bodies.
The opening panel had the presence of Dr Ciro Ugarte (PHE/PAHO), Dr João Paulo de Toledo (Director for the Department of Communicable Diseases Surveillance, Health Surveillance Secretariat of the Brazilian Ministry of Health), representing the Brazilian Government, and Silvia de Valentin (BIREME Administrator), representing BIREME Director, Dr. Diego González. Dr Toledo highlighted the IHR relevance in view of population mobility and the global health context, as well as the need for resilient control system to cope with epidemics, such as the recent Ebola’s and Zika’s, and natural disasters. He highlighted that “countries have not always been prepared to face emergencies with preparedness, in a coordinated and responsive manner […] thus, the IHR has much to develop before the new challenges of the global health agenda – in the preparation of public health responses, monitoring assessment of national and regional capacities, and even in strengthening and empowerment of the Regulation by the countries, which will enable them to attain the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Silvia de Valentin, representing the Latin-American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information, stated that it was a privilege for BIREME to participate in the event organization to support PHE/PAHO, considering the importance of the topic for the Region, especially in the framework of the celebration of the Center’s 50th anniversary, validating its mission to democratize access to information and evidence in health.
Dr Ugarte stated that the present Consultation about IHR aimed to ensure that countries be better prepared to cope with public health emergencies based on IHR. This is in line with the World Health Assembly decision to have the Strategic Global Plan for IHR submitted to Regional Consultation. He called upon country representatives to revise the previous meetings of 2015 and 2016, taking into consideration the decision of the World Health Assembly – which, once again, fosters the consultation process to present a joint decision to the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference and eventually to other WHO Directive Bodies. In his opinion, this requires finding practical elements that are suitable to our own countries and our Region, and that in the end will contribute for global safety. Dr Ugarte said that “this is an important objective, because this event gathers all technical, strategic, political and decision-making elements and, therefore, we have a huge responsibility”. He concluded by thanking the country representatives for their attendance, considering the little time between invitations and the meeting, and shared his expectations for the discussions to be open. He reminded the audience that what was collectively sought were decisions to be effectively applied internally in countries, with regional and global support, focused on wellbeing, Sustainable Development, and health safety, as ruled by IHR.
According to Dr Roberta Andraghetti, “The participation of States Parties during group and plenary discussions was extremely focused, lively and rich. This signals an extraordinary high level of ownership and commitment to the application and implementation of the IHR as a tool to contribute to both, the strengthening of national health systems and global health. The outcomes of the Consultation portray the Regional of the Americas as pathfinder on the global scene”.
After the opening panel, Verônica Abdala (Cooperative Information Services Manager) made a presentation about BIREME, highlighting the historical landmarks in celebration of its 50th anniversary, in addition to its main projects, products and services in information and scientific evidence in health. Moreover, Verônica said BIREME has skilled professionals to collaborate with concrete actions to systematize information on IHR, which opens doors to joint work between PHE and BIREME, to be materialized in a joint project.
The event was closed on July 19th, and Dr Ugarte thanked the excellent organization and technical quality of discussions. The meeting photo gallery is available at http://rsi.bvsalud.org.