Bahrain ‘strengthening its health security systems’

BAHRAIN is working to develop its health security systems to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to public health risks whether they occur naturally or due to deliberate or accidental events.

Health Ministry assistant under-secretary for public health Dr Ejlal Al Alawi revealed that the joint external evaluation helps countries identify the most critical gaps within their human and animal health systems in order to prioritise opportunities for enhanced preparedness and response.

She added it is a ‘collaborative and multi-sector process’ to assess country capacities.

Health decision-makers in Bahrain will continue meeting until today for the second round of joint external evaluation of international health regulations implementation in Bahrain at Wyndham Grand Manama.

The event is organised by the Health Ministry, in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Bahrain.

Taking part besides ministry officials are those representing the Interior, Industry and Commerce, Transportation and Telecommunications, Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture and Oil and Environment Ministries, alongside representatives from the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA), Public Hospitals, primary healthcare centres and Bahrain Airport Company.

“The International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) provide an overarching legal framework that defines countries’ rights and obligations in handling public health events and emergencies that have the potential to cross borders,” said Dr Al Alawi.

“The IHR are an instrument of international law that is legally-binding on 196 countries, including the 194 WHO member states,” she added.

“The regulations are guidelines for health emergencies that are borderless and pose an international threat such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In Bahrain, we are seeking to assess the availability of basic capabilities to have the guidelines executed.”

She added that this is the second assessment following the first in 2016.

“As we progress in our assessment, Bahrain is showing its ability to develop health security systems and, in the bigger picture, contribute to a healthier world.”

WHO Bahrain Representative and Head of Office Dr Tasnim Atatrah said Bahrain has shown commitment to the regulations, not just on check-listing basic requirements but also by introducing useful voluntary elements.

“Bahrain is ready to respond to any irregular health condition that may have international concerns,” she added.

Also speaking, WHO Country Health Emergency Preparedness and IHR programme area manager Dr Dalia Samhouri, said her organisation was backing Bahrain to complete the review successfully.

The regulations also outline the criteria to determine whether or not a particular event constitutes a ‘public health emergency of international concern’.

At the same time, the IHR require countries to designate a National IHR Focal Point for communications with WHO, to establish and maintain core capacities for surveillance and response, including at designated points of entry.

Additional provisions address the areas of international travel and transport such as the health documents required.

The IHR introduces important safeguards to protect the rights of travellers and other persons in relation to the treatment of personal data, informed consent and non-discrimination in the application of health measures under the regulations.




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