Do we have any international health rules and regulation to handle worldwide health issue or problem??? The answer is yes. IHR is a kind of legally binding international treaty or agreement entered into by WHO an UN leading agency and other states.
The International Health Regulations (IHRs) prepared and issued by WHO for the protection of an individual’s health and to regulate global health system in the world.
The main object of issuing IHRs is to control, safeguard or stop or prevent spread of various diseases worldwide or cross border country and to restrict public health risk. Another object of IHRs is to evade needless intrusion with global traffic and trade“.
All worldwide health matters are coordinated by WHO since 198 within the system of the United Nations. WHO is also responsible to shape the provisions of health matters across the globe by way of issuing IHRs. International Health Regulations (IHRs) were earlier known as the International Sanitary Regulation (ISR) which were issued by WHO in 1951 against six major diseases like- cholera, plague, relapsing fever, smallpox, typhoid and yellow fever across the globe. ISRs are renamed in 1969 as International Health Regulations IHRs. IHRs were amended in 1973 and 1981 to include more provisions of cholera and to delisted smallpox from the list due to global eradication of smallpox that time. Due to some inherent issues and limitation or restrictions IHRs were thoroughly revised in 1995. Inherent issues were notified as very less diseases were notified. New viral diseases are coming out which are more infectious. Some viral diseases are returning with more infections. States do have reliance on government notification of viral diseases, and lack of Global machinery to prevent reach of disease.
Again in 2005, various provisions of IHRs were changed due to the eruption of SARS. After the amendment in IHRs a text (document) was published namely “The Principles Embodying the IHR“. This document states that with the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedom of persons, guided by the charter of the United Nations , the Constitution of the WHO, the goal of their universal application for the protection of all people worldwide from the global spread of disease, States have the sovereign right to legislate and to implement legislation in pursuance of their health policies.
New provisions of IHRs, empowered States to enact the municipal law in pursuance of their health, but keep in mind the object of IHRs and doing so, States should uphold the rationale of these regulations. So we can say The IHR develop out of the response to deadly epidemics that once spread over the world. They generate rights and obligations for States, including the requirement to report public health actions. The Regulations also drafted the standard or guidelines to establish whether a particular occurrence or incident constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern or not”. Finally the amended IHRs came into on 2007 and are binding on signatory states Parties, including all Member States of WHO. All signatory and members states accepted that certain public health incidents or occurrences, which ought to be designated as a public health Emergency of international centre (PHEIC), as they create a major global threat.
A PHEIC is defined as, “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health hazard to other States through the worldwide spread of disease and to probably require a coordinated global response”. This definition entails a situation that is grave, unexpected, strange or unforeseen, carries inferences for public health beyond the affected State’s geographical border and may necessitate instant worldwide action.
Since 2007, the WHO has confirmed public health disasters of worldwide concern. For example its major application were in response to the swine flu pandemic (known H1N1) in 2009, slow down in global polio eradication efforts during 2014, Ebola virus epidemic in western African during 2013 to 2016 and during 2018–19, Zika virus eruption during 2016, eruption of COVID 19 pandemic, 2nd (vita mutant) and 3rd phase (omicron mutant) of COVID 19, which is facing by all of the world presently since 2020.
To handle COVID 19 as precaution the IHRs require States to assign a countrywide IHR central spot for interactions with WHO, to establish and maintain system of mechanism to watch, observe and response. The IHRs are also introduced to safeguards or protect the rights of travelers, it address the areas of global travel and transport as the health certificate required for global traffic. Although IHRs are doing well for world but need to do more things without any discretion by WHO to protect the health of people of at world level.