Global outbreak and alert

The overarching principles for the international response to disease outbreaks are included in the Revised International Health Regulations.

The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) is a WHO coordinated technical collaboration of existing institutions and networks who pool human and technical resources for the rapid identification, confirmation and response to outbreaks of international importance.

The GOARN is a key international resource for implementing the International Health Regulations.

GOARN provides an operational framework to link this expertise and skill to keep the international community constantly alert to the threat of outbreaks and ready to respond.

Guiding Principles for International Outbreak Alert and Response

  1. WHO ensures outbreaks of potential international importance are rapidly verified and information is quickly shared within the Network.
  2. There is a rapid response coordinated by the Operational Support Team to requests for assistance from affected state(s).
  3. The most appropriate experts reach the field in the least possible time to carry out coordinated and effective outbreak control activities.
  4. The international team integrates and coordinates activities to support national efforts and existing public health infrastructure.
  5. There is a fair and equitable process for the participation of Network partners in international responses.
  6. There is strong technical leadership and coordination in the field.
  7. Partners make every effort to ensure the effective coordination of their participation and support of outbreak response.
  8. There is recognition of the unique role of national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the area of health, including in the control of outbreaks. NGOs providing support that would not otherwise be available, particularly in reaching poor populations. While striving for effective collaboration and coordination, the Network will respect the independence and objectivity of all partners.
  9. Responses will be used as a mechanism to build global capacity by the involvement of participants from field-based training programmes in applied epidemiology and public health practice, e.g. Field Epidemiology Training Programmes (FETPs).
  10. There is commitment to national and regional capacity building as a follow up to international outbreak responses to improve preparedness and reduce future vulnerability to epidemic prone diseases.
  11. All Network responses will proceed with full respect for ethical standards, human rights, national and local laws, cultural sensitivities and traditions.

Source: Guiding principles for international outbreak alert and response

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