Legal and regulatory frameworks provide health officials with the authorities they need to conduct surveillance for priority diseases and unusual events, and to act rapidly to investigate and minimize the impact of outbreaks and other public health emergencies. The revised International Health Regulations (IHR) call on the 196 States Parties to develop the core capacities required to detect, assess, report, and respond to public health emergencies of international concern. To meet their IHR obligations, countries must ensure that adequate laws, regulations, policies, and other governance tools are in place to support the development of these core capacities.
 
With support from the UK Ministry of Defence, the Center is conducting a series of three workshops that involves collaboration across ministries from both the Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to address gaps in implementing the IHR.  This collaboration involves Ministries of Health and Environment, Agriculture, Planning, and Interior bridging inter-sectoral gaps and strengthening relationships towards a whole-of-government approach to IHR compliance.
 
The first workshop focused on mapping existing frameworks related to the detection of and response to zoonotic and other emerging disease threats. The second addressed key objectives identified during the first meeting: raising awareness of IHR across ministerial stakeholders and developing national preparedness and contingency plans for Points of Entry (POEs).
 
In collaboration with our Iraqi partners we have created a map of current capacities for IHR implementation, including laws relevant to detection, surveillance, and investigation of zoonotic disease outbreaks; we have conducted a gap analysis and mapped existing capacities and chain of command for health events at POEs as well as IHR awareness among and between Central Government and KRG ministries; and developed whole-of-government action plans for achieving IHR compliance. These efforts are critical as Iraq develops her National Action Plan for Health Security. 
 
Erin Sorrell and Julie Fischer with project collaborators at a meeting in Iraq