Meeting core capacity requirements for international points of entry

The Ministry of Health leads the programme to ensure New Zealand’s international airports and seaports meet the standards of public health preparedness expected by the international community.

District Health Board public health units work in cooperation with our international airports and ports to ensure that they meet the core capacities required under the International Health Regulations 2005. These regulations were developed by the World Health Organization over a number of years, and replaced the 1969 regulations.

New Zealand participated in this process and has signed up to the International Health Regulations 2005. We are obliged to participate in ensuring that the requirements of the Regulations are enforced in New Zealand.

Border health core capacities

The core capacities are regarded as critical for identifying and managing potential public health risks including preventing the international spread of disease.  There are two types of core capacities that are required at our international airports and seaports. These are described in Articles 19–22 and Part B of Annex 1 of the IHR.

Capacities required at all times

These capacities are regarded as ‘business as usual’ and set out some fundamental capacities that all points of entry should have on a daily basis, including.

  • Access to medical service and diagnostic staff and equipment
  • Access to staff and equipment for the recovery and transportation of ill travellers
  • Access to trained personnel for the inspection of aircraft or ships
  • A healthy environment for users of international airport or seaport facilities, including safe water and food, clean catering facilities and wash rooms, sewage and waste disposal services and an  inspection programme
  • Access to trained staff and programmes for vector control (eg, rats and mosquitoes).

Capacities required during a public health emergency of international concern

These capacities focus on being prepared for, and being able to appropriately respond to, a significant public health event that could impact on the international community.

  • Emergency response planning and coordination
  • Communication contact points for relevant airport and ports, public health authorities and other agencies
  • Assessment and care for affected travellers, animals and goods by establishing arrangements with medical and veterinary facilities for isolation and treatment
  • Space to interview suspect or affected persons away from other travellers
  • Assessment and quarantine of suspect or affected travellers at facilities away from the international port
  • Recommended control measures to disinsect, disinfect, and decontaminate baggage and other cargo
  • Entry/exit control for departing and arriving passengers
  • Access to required equipment and protection gear for personnel to transfer travellers with infection/contamination.

Where are New Zealand’s international airports and sea ports?

Airports

  • Auckland International Airport
  • Christchurch International Airport
  • Wellington International Airport
  • Rotorua International Airport
  • Dunedin International Airport
  • Queenstown International Airport
  • Whenuapai Air Base
  • Ohakea Air Base.

Other regional airports may receive unscheduled international flights from time to time.

International sea ports

  • Centreport (Wellington)
  • Devonport Naval Base (North Shore)
  • Eastland Port Limited (Gisborne)
  • Lyttelton Port of Christchurch
  • Northport (Whangarei)
  • Marsden Point
  • Opua (Bay of Islands)
  • Ports of Auckland Limited
  • Port Marlborough (Picton)
  • Port of Napier Limited
  • Port Nelson Limited
  • Port Otago (Port Chalmers)
  • Port Taranaki (New Plymouth)
  • Port of Tauranga
  • PrimePort (Timaru)
  • South Port NZ Limited (Bluff)

Assessing our core capacities

New Zealand’s international points were all assessed to ensure that they met the World Health Organization’s core capacity requirements.  While the initial assessment programme was led by the Ministry of Health at the national level, local District Health Board public health units were designated as competent authorities under the International Health Regulations 2005 to lead the detailed assessment process for the international airports and sea ports in their jurisdictions.

This process required close engagement with port and airport and stakeholders who have a role to ensure public health is safeguarded (eg, government border control agencies).

The World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) developed an assessment and designation process for international points of entry and New Zealand has followed this.  A standardised assessment tool was developed and has been rolled out internationally.

All New Zealand maritime and aviation points of entry were successfully designated as meeting the core capacity requirements and the World Health Organization was informed of this.  Annual reports are provided to the World Health Organization on the core capacities of New Zealand’s designated points of entry.

Annual re-verification

From here, each point of entry will go through an annual verification process to check that the core capacities are being maintained.  Local District Health Board public health units lead this process and report their findings to the Ministry by submitting an annual border health report.  To inform these reports, public health units conduct an audit of selected core capacities each year and report to the Ministry on work to remedy any deficiencies found.  The audits focus on:

  • Progress from the previous year’s verification
  • Undertaking a random audit of selected capacities to verify that key core capacities have been maintained
  • Training (individual and collective)
  • Public health planning and contingency plans for emergency events
  • Relationship building
  • Vector control.

Annual verification reports are submitted to the Ministry in February/March each year.  The Ministry then collates and analyses the information provided across the country.  If significant shortcoming are identified, or key learnings found that would be of value to other ports or airports, then this information is communicated to public health units.  The Ministry then provides an annual report to the World Health Organization on the status of New Zealand international points of entry.

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