The updated WHO Benchmarks for Strengthening Health Emergency Capacities expanded to include public health and social measures (PHSM)

The updated WHO Benchmarks for Strengthening Health Emergency Capacities expanded to include public health and social measures (PHSM)

The updated WHO Benchmarks for Strengthening Health Emergency Capacities was published to support the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the health emergency prevention, preparedness, response, and resilience capacities

Taking on board the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent health emergencies, the benchmarks expanded to reflect closer alignment with the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) monitoring and evaluation framework, the health systems for health security framework, disaster risk management, and the health emergency prevention, preparedness, response, and resilience (HEPR) framework.

The updated benchmark now includes a critical new technical area, public health and social measures (PHSM). PHSMs are interventions implemented by individuals, communities, and governments to reduce the risk and scale of epidemic- and pandemic-prone infectious disease transmission. Examples of PHSM include hand washing, mask-wearing, physical distancing, school and business measures, modifications of mass gatherings, and international travel and trade measures.

PHSM plays a critical role throughout the different stages of health emergencies and acts in concert with medical countermeasures. They are often the first and the only intervention available at the onset of an outbreak when effective vaccines and therapeutics are not (yet) available or equitably distributed. This is why the benchmark on PHSM is critical in ensuring that PHSM is systematically integrated into health emergency management plans, policies, financing governance, and leadership in all relevant sectors and levels across the health emergency actions.

The published WHO Benchmarks for Strengthening Health Emergency Capacities is accompanied by the Benchmark Portal for countries to quickly develop draft national plans and navigate benchmarks as per their need using the portal. The dedicated page on the PHSM benchmark enables users to refer to proposed activities to progress across five incremental capacity levels, facilitating to reach of the sustainable capacity level.

 

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