Public Health Department in the process of establishing International Health Regulations organizatio

The Public Health Department (PHD), the department tasked with policy development within the Ministry of Public Health, organized a meeting recently with various government departments and relevant stakeholders with respect to the International Health Regulations (IHR).


In 2007, IHR entered into force to help the international community prevent and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people worldwide.

The Regulations detail core capacities that countries’ should establish/strengthen, which should be implemented by June 2012. This deadline of achieving core capacities has been a challenge for countries and as a result countries have been given the opportunity to request a two-year extension with respect to the full implementation of IHR, which had to be in June 2012.

A request for an extension has been submitted by the Netherlands who is the Member State of the World Health Organization (WHO) on behalf of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten. Sint Maarten as a country in the Kingdom falls under what is stipulated in IHR by way of the Netherlands. The extension will be granted by the WHO once an implementation plan has been submitted.

The PHD is currently in the process of establishing an IHR Team whose task will be to assess and develop a local IHR Implementation Plan to be implemented over the next two years.

The IHR requires States to strengthen core surveillance and response capacities at the primary, intermediate and national level, as well as at designated international ports, airports and ground crossings. The most relevant for the country will be the two ports of entry (airport, harbor).

States will also have to introduce a series of health documents, including ship sanitation certificates and an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis for travelers.

The IHR was a response to the exponential increase in international travel and trade, and emergence and re-emergence of international disease threats and other health risks.

194 countries across the globe have agreed to implement IHR-2005. This binding instrument of international law entered into force on 15, June 2007.

As part of the Minister of Public Health’s "Get Checked," campaign, the country is taking steps and checking to make sure it abides with international law and regulations that are applicable to country Sint Maarten with the end result being the protection of public health.