Photo by UNMEER/Martine Perret. 15 December 2014
International Health GovernanceSymposium

The WHO’s Institutional and Legal Role in Communicable Disease Epidemics: From Pandemic Influenza to Zika

On 1 February, 2016, the World Health Organization´s (WHO) Director-General declared that the Zika virus epidemic in the Americas is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The illness caused by this virus is very rarely fatal, and it causes mild symptoms: rash, headaches, conjunctivitis, sometimes fever and joint pains. Besides, an estimated 80% of cases are asymptomatic, which makes it next to impossible to establish an exact number …

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Photo by UNMEER/Martine Perret. 15 December 2014
International Health GovernanceSymposium

Creating Legal Effects for the WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005) – Which way forward?

During the Ebola-crisis 2014, states have widely ignored the measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and have interfered in the fight against the disease. This blogpost suggests ways to address shortcomings in states’ adherence to the law. Global Health Crisis and the World Health Organization Globalization facilitates the worldwide spread of diseases. Recently, Ebola throughout Western Africa, and Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean gave rise to …

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Photo by UNMEER/Martine Perret. 15 December 2014
International Health GovernanceSymposium

Ebola Epidemic 2014-2015 – a Wake-Up Call for Sustainable Health Governance and Development Policy

After the first appearances of the Ebola epidemic in December 2013, the disease spread wide and fast, exceeding any previous Ebola epidemic with regard to incidence and prevalence and was declared a pandemic by WHO. Before 2013, the outbreaks of this highly infectious disease were locally restricted and primarily situated in rural areas. The latest outbreak of this epidemic, however, expanded to the urban population as well as across borders. …

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DiscussionResponse

The pandemic dilemma

A reply to Pedro Villarreal Pedro Villareal wonders whether and how global health security can be enhanced through international law. He raises two interrelated questions: First, should an expert body be able to force the WHO Director-General to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)? And second: Should there be sanctions against states that exceed the security measures recommended by the WHO? In other words: Should they be …

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DiscussionKick-off

Reforms of the World Health Organization in light of the Ebola crisis in West Africa: More delegation, more teeth?

The 68th World Health Assembly took place from 18 to 26 May, 2015. The Assembly is the maximum decision-making organ of the World Health Organization (WHO). In this forum, there were calls for institutional reform in light of the belated response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. More recently, an Ebola Interim Assessment Panel Report was published, containing concrete proposals to reform some of WHO’s legal mechanisms for health …

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DiscussionResponse

The limits of emergency mechanisms

A Response to Tine Hanrieder and Christian Kreuder-Sonnen Emergency mechanisms are essential in addressing and containing crisis situations such as the recent Ebola outbreak. Tine and Christian have drawn our attention to the development of the WHO’s emergency powers, and to how recent changes and adjustments of the organization’s response compared to the 2009 swine flu outbreak had a legitimacy enhancing effect. At the same time, however, thinking and conceptualizing …

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DiscussionKick-off

The WHO’s new emergency powers – from SARS to Ebola

The Ebola outbreak is only the third Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) ever declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO’s emergency authority is based on the International Health Regulations (IHR) adopted in 2005. While these regulations enable the organization only to recommend measures to states, its decisions to declare a PHEIC and to issue temporary recommendations are de facto authoritative points of reference for global and …

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