|WHO Twitter Announcement|
Earlier today the WHO convened an emergency session of their IHR Emergency Committee to determine if the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the DRC constitutes a Public Health Emergency Of International Concern (PHEIC) - and if so, what measures to recommend.
The designation of a PHEIC by the WHO was first proposed in the revised 2005 IHR, but the first time it was invoked was in 2009 with the H1N1 pandemic.While meetings have been convened several times in the past for both MERS-CoV and Yellow Fever, only 3 other PHEICs have been declared to date:
The bar for declaring a PHEIC is purposefully set pretty high, as invoking one does have some down sides, particularly in regards to travel and trade for an affected region.
Today, after considering the pros and cons, the decision was made (for now, at least) not to declare this Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency Of International Concern.It is a concern, they say, but is currently believed to be more of a regional threat than a global one. Below you'll find an excerpt, and a link to the full WHO statement.
Statement on the October 2018 meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee on the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
17 October 2018
The meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) regarding the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo took place on Wednesday, 17 October 2018, from 13:00 to 17:00 Geneva time (CET).
It was the view of the Committee that a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) should not be declared at this time. But the Committee remains deeply concerned by the outbreak and emphasized that response activities need to be intensified and ongoing vigilance is critical. The Committee also noted the very complex security situation. Additionally, the Committee has provided public health advice below.
Proceedings of the Meeting
Members and advisors of the Emergency Committee met by teleconference. Presentations were made by representatives of the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the epidemiological situation, the response strategies, and recent adaptations, including implementation of rapid response teams at community level, with a focus on Beni. A representative of the Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (MONUSCO) reported on the work of MONUSCO, including its logistics and security activities to support the response. During the informational session, the WHO Secretariat provided an update on the situation and the response to the current Ebola outbreak and preparedness activities in neighbouring countries.
The Committee’s role was to provide to the Director-General its views and perspectives on:
- Whether the event constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
- If the event constitutes a PHEIC, what Temporary Recommendations should be made.
Follow the link to read the full statement, which includes a assessment of the Current Situation and a list of Key Challenges.