ISLAMABAD, Feb 11: In a bid to ensure continuity in the flow of funds from the World Health Organisation, Pakistan has started working on implementation of the international health regulations (IHR).
Islamabad ratified the regulations during the World Health Assembly in 2007. These regulations cover issues related to chemical and radio-nuclear events, communicable diseases, epidemics, agriculture, livestock, quarantine matters, border crossing (transportation of dangerous goods), food safety, environmental hazards and zoonosis (an animal disease that can spread to humans).
After the 18th constitutional amendment, the implementation of the regulations was mandated to the ministry of regulations and services. However, it required a fresh strategy by the stakeholders - provincial governments.
An official in the ministry of regulations said after devolution the IHR issues could not be addressed properly at the federal level, because the subject of health was devolved to the provinces.
The WHO has also shown its concern over the government’s failure to address the IHR matters, which are related to public health, he said.
Another official added that the representatives from the strategic plans division, ministry of food security, provincial health departments, National Institute of Health and WHO discussed the matter at a meeting here on Monday.
Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, the secretary regulations and services, informed the meeting that the WHO-IHR core capacity assessment mission was due to visit Pakistan on February 19,” said Dr Raja Mustafa Hyder, Pakistan’s focal person for WHO-IHR.
He said WHO-IHR mission would assess Pakistan’s border health security measures like the entry-exit points and the capability to deal with zoonotic diseases etc.
After assessment, WHO-IHR officials would provide technical assistance to Pakistan for implementation of the regulations. They would also assess Pakistan’s laboratory capacity to tackle any disease outbreak.
Dr Hyder added: “We have already asked WHO for an optional two-year extension for implementing of the regulations as permissible under the rules.”
Another official said Pakistan had the capacity to implement WHO-IHR in two years. A delay may affect WHO’s health funding to Pakistan on a yearly basis, he observed.