Strengthening preparedness for serious cross-border health threats


The SHARP Joint Action aims to increase implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) and to strengthen preparedness for serious cross-border health threats.

In the last 12 months the following activities have been promoted with the framework of SHARP’s work package eight: trainings and exercises; sharing knowledge and experiences across countries; providing technical support and skills in preparedness and response planning; plus, enhancement of inter-sectoral collaboration.

An assessment of IHR-related, cross-sectoral training needs – in the EU, the European Economic Area and neighbouring countries – performed by the Institute of Public Health – quantified regional differences and gaps in several areas of IHR core capacities. The report recommended several areas for improvement, e.g. in the areas of biosafety and biosecurity, risk communication and chemical events, and stressed the need to work across sectors on a local, regional and national level.

Online training introduced junior to mid-career public health professionals to International Health Regulations

Supporting the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) core capacities (legislation and policy, coordination, surveillance, response, preparedness, risk communication, human resources and laboratories) requires trained personnel in various sectors and at diverse levels.

To meet this need, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) developed an IHR basic online training designed for junior to mid-career public health professionals and newcomers.

Launched first in June 2020, a total of 4 training courses with five modules each were delivered with support of WHO Euro. Feedback from delegates confirmed the course supplied an excellent introduction to IHR. In addition, the interactive delivery made it possible to exchange experiences and best practices with other delegates.

In total, 88 professionals from more than 20 European countries have attended the IHR (2005) Basic Online Trainings during the Joint Action.

One of the participants of the February-March 2022 training group, Liina Voutilainen, a Senior Researcher in the fight against infectious diseases at THL, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says:

“The skilled trainers from RKI created a warm and inspiring atmosphere, which promoted networking between participants. In addition, experts from WHO (World Health Organisation) Europe brought wide of experience and insights. Thanks to the engaging and well-prepared interactive exercises, participants are now able to apply the knowledge learned into working practice.”

Future sustainability of the training materials underway

Milena Vasic of work package eight lead, the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, reports:

Other plans for 2022 include supporting SHARP partners to deliver further, IHR strengthening opportunities.

“Discussions are now underway to make the modules and materials more widely available through the training platform developed by the Institute of Public Health of Serbia and other relevant platforms.”

Read more about SHARP Joint Action, Training and local exercises, exchange of working practices, Work Package 8.

Read more about Work Package 8’s report on training needs.

Read more about International Health Regulations (2005) on the WHO website.

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