St. Maarten gets more time for international health regulations

POSTED: 10/10/12 12:02 PM

St. Maarten (DCOMM) – The Public Health Department (PHD) organized a meeting recently with government departments and stakeholders about the International Health Regulations (IHR). The department is tasked with policy development at the Public Health Ministry.

In 2007, IHR entered into force to help the international community prevent and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people worldwide.

The regulations detail core capacities that countries’ should establish or strengthen, which should be implemented by June 2012. This deadline of achieving core capacities has been a challenge and as a result countries have been given the opportunity to request a two-year extension with respect to the full implementation of IHR.

A request for an extension has been submitted by the Netherlands – the Member State of the World Health Organization – on behalf of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. The extension will be granted once an implementation plan has been submitted.

The PHD is currently in the process of establishing an IHR team whose task will be to assess and develop a local implementation plan.

The IHR requires states to strengthen core surveillance and response capacities at the primary, intermediate and national level, as well as at designated international ports, airports and ground crossings. The most relevant for the country will be the two ports of entry – the airport and the  harbor.

States will also have to introduce a series of health documents, including ship sanitation certificates and an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis for travelers.

The IHR was a response to the exponential increase in international travel and trade, and emergence and re-emergence of international disease threats and other health risks.

Across the globe 194 countries have agreed to implement the regulations.

As part of the Minister of Public Health’s “Get Checked,” campaign, St. Maarten is taking steps to make sure it abides with international laws and regulations.

 

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