International effort to improve monitoring and prevention of epidemics
The general assembly of the World Health Organisation has approved a new international health regulation, replacing the one passed in 1969 and amended 12 years later. The new regulation is designed to upgrade protection against, and the prevention protection and of epidemics and set preconditions for their eradication.
According to the regulation, outbreaks of smallpox, polio, a new strain of the influenza virus and SARS constitute a public health emergency and must always be reported to the WHO.
The regulation widens the scope of responsibility of member states to ensure they have sufficient capacity to tackle epidemics and report them within 24 hours of an outbreak.
Finland has to upgrade its preparedness to meet the new regulation and will devote more resources and increased collaboration in healthcare and between different sections of public administration.
The general assembly also approved a new vaccination programme for 2006-2015 to improve depleted immunisation in many developing countries.