Public Health: Emergencies

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to improve data sharing agreements between countries in the case of a global health emergency.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Under the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) implements a clear policy on data sharing in the context of public health emergencies that all countries are encouraged to comply with. The IHR encourage States to share information with WHO before a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is declared. Data can be made publicly available if a PHEIC is declared, if there is evidence of international spread of infections or other harmful agents or if there is an immediate need for international control measures.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak began, the UK has engaged internationally with affected countries to raise the importance of providing the WHO promptly with comprehensive "line-list" demographic and geographic information. The British Government encourages all countries to comply with requirements of International Health Regulations, which includes sharing of data in case of public health emergencies. Through Official Development Assistance, We are also supporting 6 Lower-Middle Income Countries to improve their compliance with International Health Regulations .

The UK also has other bilateral or multilateral relationships where we share information. These include the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

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