World Health Organization (WHO) has already declared the coronavirus outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern (PEHIC)” four days ago. The continuous updates from all countries somehow changed this declaration considering it doesn’t have sufficient scientific evidence to be declared as an emergency.
There are only five PHEICs recorded till the date, including the following;
- H1N1 influenza outbreak (2009-10)
- Polio Control (2014)
- Ebola outbreak in Africa (2014)
- Zika virus outbreak in Africa (2015-2016)
- Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Current)
World Health Organization has responded to 58 health emergencies within last year, (in 50 countries) but still, PHEICs are considered as a special category of emergencies which is different from the rest.
Public health emergencies of international concern or (PEHIC) are considered under the International Health Regulations. These are the public health crisis of some extraordinary nature followed by an international disease spread and need a comprehensive coordination plan.
During the second meeting of the Emergency Committee under World Health organization’s Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) on the recent outbreak of novel coronavirus in People’s Republic of China, spreading to other countries, the nature of this disease and a comprehensive plan of action was discussed.
Held at Geneva, the committee advised the Director-General on making the final decisions on declaring coronavirus outbreak as “Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)”. Moreover, the Committee discussed common health advice and temporary recommendations for the public.
The WHO committee warm-heartedly acknowledged the political commitment and efforts of the Chinese government to control the current coronavirus outbreak. This is a remarkable fact that China was able to quickly diagnose this virus, sequence it and shared details of it so that other countries would take necessary precautionary and preventive measures to limit its spread. This rapid declaration of a public health emergency has helped to develop diagnostic tools for coronavirus and many countries are currently working to find medicine and vaccine of coronavirus.
WHO also recognizes China’s multi-sectoral approaches and a comprehensive preventive plan to prevent coronavirus spread. Not just in Wuhan, the epicenter of this virus but all nearby cities of china are following the public health measures to control this spread. Multiple studies are carried out to study the severity and transmission of coronavirus and the data obtained from this researches are made public as soon as it is confirmed. All these measures that China is taking are not only helpful for itself but also for the rest of the world.
The committee agrees that it is still possible to interrupt coronavirus spread by taking the strong control measures to diagnose the disease at the earliest possible stage. The infected person must be treated in isolation so that the virus doesn’t spread among other patients.
On the other side, the situation is still evolving despite taking all the necessary measures. That is why WHO was positive on coronavirus outbreak to fall into its category of Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and issued temporary recommendations against this outbreak.