New Zealand’s core capacity to prepare and respond to public health emergencies of international concern will be put under the microscope this week as the World Health Organization (WHO) evaluates our nation’s health security.
Visiting experts from Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Republic of Korea, Italy and the WHO, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Organisation for Animal Health will conduct an evaluation to assess how well New Zealand has implemented the WHO International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR). They are accompanied by observers and peer reviewers from Jamaica, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General Ministry of Health, says ‘the mission will focus on New Zealand’s ability and capacity to detect, prevent, manage and respond to public health threats.’
‘New Zealand has a high performing health system, however we are not complacent about the risks we face both now and in the future. The evaluation is a positive step to ensure we remain focused on reviewing our preparedness and ability to respond to emerging threats, to ensure we can continue to protect our nation,’ says Dr Bloomfield.
‘The responsibility to safeguard New Zealand’s health security is the task of a number of government agencies. This process has required we collaborate with other government agencies and across sectors to describe how we would respond across health, agriculture, food and chemical safety, radiation, disaster response, defence and foreign affairs. Twenty-three government agencies have supported this evaluation process.
The evaluation by international experts is the final step in a year-long assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of New Zealand’s ability to detect, prevent and respond to public health risks.
‘We have looked to past experiences and are committed to continually improving our preparedness,’ says Dr Bloomfield.
The findings from the external evaluation will be made available in 2019. These recommendations will form the basis of the next review which is expected to be in five years time.