The International Health Regulations
The International Health Regulations (IHR) are an international legal tool. They are legally binding on 196 countries, which are working together on global health security.
The aim of the IHR is to help the international community avoid serious risks to public health that are likely to spread beyond borders and pose a threat worldwide, by taking appropriate measures.
The International Health Regulations were adopted by the 58th World Health Assembly on 23 May 2005 and were made enforceable in Monaco by Sovereign Ordinance no. 3.153 of 24 February 2011 .
The IHR entail a certain number of obligations for signatories, who must:
- Designate a National Focal Point (NFP) permanently responsible for ensuring that information is shared with World Health Organization (WHO). In Monaco, the Department of Health and Social Affairs fulfils this role
- Assess public health events likely to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and, depending on the circumstances, notify them to WHO
- Respond to WHO requests regarding health events which may pose a risk to public health
- Develop, strengthen and then maintain national capacities to detect, assess and respond to health events which may pose a risk to public health
- Strengthen surveillance and response capacities at international ports and airports on a routine basis and in response to events which may constitute a PHEIC
Application of the IHR in the Principality
As part of applying the International Health Regulations (IHR) in the Principality, a full-scale exercise was held on the sea wall of the Port of Monaco. The first phase took place on the Port Hercule sea wall, simulating the evacuation of a person infected with a highly contagious disease from a ship after the captain had sounded the alert.
For the second phase, the teams then went to Fontvieille fire station, which served as a fictitious hospital, to treat and decontaminate the patient. Implemented by the Department of Health and Social Affairs in collaboration with the Fire & Emergency Service, the Princess Grace Hospital Emergency Unit and various relevant government departments, the exercise was recommended by World Health Organization as part of the application of the International Health Regulations (IHR).
This scenario should enable testing of the chain of alert from the point at which information is sent by a ship to the government authorities, and then of the emergency chain beginning with treatment by the emergency and medical services of sick and contagious patients on their arrival at the quay, adhering to appropriate personal protection measures.