The International Health Regulations – effectively a treaty authorised by the constitution of the World Health Organisation – are the principal international legal framework for preventing and controlling the spread of disease and other public health hazards between countries.
NZ is bound without reservation to the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, which replaced the earlier IHR 1969. These Regulations are binding on New Zealand by virtue of our membership of the World Health Organisation.
The revised International Health Regulations were adopted on 23 May 2005 by the World Health Assembly. These regulations entered into force in June 2007. In December 2006 the New Zealand Government agreed that New Zealand would fully implement them.
The expanded purpose and scope of the IHR 2005 are to ‘prevent, protect against, control, and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade’.
The renewed mandate given to Member States and to WHO under the IHR 2005 has increased their roles and responsibilities. States that are party to the IHR 2005 are required to strengthen develop and maintain core surveillance and response capacities to detect, assess, notify and report public health events to WHO and to respond to public health risks and emergencies. WHO will provide support and assist in evaluation and implementation of capacity building in surveillance and response.