Skip to content

Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

SARS Prompts Broader Powers for WHO

New Regulations to Protect Against Infectious Disease Threats
By
WebMD Health News

May 28, 2003 -- Recognizing SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) as "the first severe infectious disease to emerge in the twenty-first century," the World Health Organization (WHO) today approved sweeping new regulations to give the organization authority to track and respond to future global health threats.

It's the first proposed major revision of the International Health Regulations since 1969. The regulations provide the legal framework for the global surveillance and reporting of infectious diseases, such as SARS.

The revisions, which are expected to be completed in 2005, will also give the organization greater power to enforce measures designed to prevent the international spread of infectious diseases and minimize interference with world traffic.

"This is an extremely significant step for international public health," said Gro Harlem Brundtland, MD, director-general of WHO, in a news release. "SARS has shown us the size of the challenges we face. These new measures will help us respond even more effectively to the next public health threat."

Verifying Infectious Disease Quickly

The new regulations will allow the WHO to verify disease outbreaks through official and unofficial sources, conduct on-the-spot investigations when necessary to determine the severity of an outbreak, and check to see if appropriate control measures are in place.

The current regulations limit mandatory reporting of just a few diseases to the WHO, but the new rules will broaden notification requirements to include "public health emergencies of international concern," such as bioterrorism.

In their resolution adopted today at the meeting of the WHO's governing body in Geneva, representatives from more than 190 countries stated that "national and international experiences with SARS contribute lessons that can improve preparedness for responding to, and mitigating the public health, economic, and social consequences of the next emerging infectious disease, the next influenza pandemic, and the possible use of a biological agent to cause harm."

The delegates also urged all member states to improve the system to ensure rapid two-way communication between the WHO and national public health authorities.

In a related move, a unanimous resolution on SARS that called for all nations to "report cases promptly and transparently and provide requested information to WHO" was also approved.

Today on WebMD

man coughing
You may not even know you have it.
blood clot
Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
 
man coughing
When a cold becomes bronchitis.
human lungs
Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
 

chest x-ray
Slideshow
Bronchitis Overview
SLIDESHOW
 
Copd Myth Fact Quiz
QUIZ
Energy Boosting Foods
SLIDESHOW
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

lungs
Article
smokestacks
Article
 
woman coughing
Article
Lung xray and caduceus
Article