Lessons learnt from implementation of the International Health Regulations: a systematic review

Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Volume 96, Number 2, February 2018, 77-144

Lessons learnt from implementation of the International Health Regulations: a systematic review
— Amitabh B Suthar, Lisa G Allen, Sara Cifuentes, Christopher Dye & Jason M Nagata

To respond to the World Health Assembly call for dissemination of lessons learnt from countries that have begun implementing the International Health Regulations, 2005 revision; IHR (2005).
In November 2015, we conducted a systematic search of the following online databases and sources: PubMed®, Embase®, Global Health, Scopus, World Health Organization (WHO) Global Index Medicus, WHO Bulletin on IHR Implementation and the International Society for Disease Surveillance. We included identified studies and reports summarizing national experience in implementing any of the IHR (2005) core capacities or their components. We excluded studies that were theoretical or referred to IHR (1969). Qualitative systematic review methodology, including meta-ethnography, was used for qualitative synthesis.
We analysed 51 articles from 77 countries representing all WHO Regions. The meta-syntheses identified a total of 44 lessons learnt across the eight core capacities of IHR (2005). Major themes included the need to mobilize and sustain political commitment; to adapt global requirements based on local sociocultural, epidemiological, health system and economic contexts; and to conduct baseline and follow-up assessments to monitor the status of IHR (2005) implementation.
Although experiences of IHR (2005) implementation covered a wide global range, more documentation from Africa and Eastern Europe is needed. We did not find specific areas of weakness in monitoring IHR (2005); sustained monitoring of all core capacities is required to ensure effective systems. These lessons learnt could be adapted by countries in the process of meeting IHR (2005) requirements.