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New global health rules enter into force

By Xinhua

Geneva : The revised International Health Regulations (IHR) will formally enter into force Friday, aiming to make the world more secure from health threats.

The regulations consist of a comprehensive and tested set of rules and procedures for tackling threats to global health. They were agreed by the World Health Assembly in 2005 and considered a major step forward in international public health security.

"Today, the greatest threat to international public health security would be an influenza pandemic. Implementation of the IHR will help the world to be better prepared for the possibility of a pandemic," Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said Thursday.

The regulations establish an agreed framework of commitments and responsibilities for states and WHO to invest in limiting the international spread of epidemics and other public health emergencies while minimizing disruption to travel, trade and economies.

Under the revised IHR, states will be required to report all events that could result in public health emergencies of international concern, including those caused by chemical agents, radioactive materials and contaminated food.

"Implementing the IHR is a collective responsibility and depends on the capacity of all countries to fulfill the new requirements," said David Heymann, the WHO assistant director-general for communicable diseases.