Strict Border Controls Needed to Prevent Disease Entry

Strict Border Controls Needed  to Prevent Disease EntryStrict Border Controls Needed  to Prevent Disease Entry

Minister of Health and Medical Education Dr. Seyyed Hassan Hashemi, addressing the 61st session of the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) in Tunis emphasized the need for intensified monitoring of borders to prevent the entry of infectious diseases.

Calling the G5 a clear example of South-South Cooperation, he said the improvement of public health security and implementation of international health regulations (IHR 2005) are the two main issues of interest to the group.

The G5 comprising Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and the regional office was formed with the aim of implementing the WHO EMRO IHR 2005.

Recalling that Iran hosted the G5 summit attended by high-level experts from member countries in September 2014, he said the summit provided an excellent opportunity for EMRO countries to effectively share their experiences.

Hashemi also thanked the WHO Europe and East Mediterranean regional offices as well as the Food and Agricultural Office (FAO) for providing the opportunity and following up on the matters in this regard.

 Common Concerns

The health minister said the common concerns of G5 countries, that is, infectious diseases and implementation of the IHR 2005, are most crucial in border regions especially in land crossings “that should not be taken lightly.”

“Outbreak of epidemics such as the 2009 flu pandemic, drug-resistant TB, polio, now Ebola and corona virus, all remind us of the importance of international health regulations,” he added.

Noting that the increasing rate of holiday and business trips as well as illegal border crossings make the countries vulnerable and threaten public health, he said it is necessary for the G5 to increase their cooperation in border regions. He suggested use of better monitoring systems and uniform alert, preparedness and response operations for possible future programs and border preventive measures. “G5 provides an excellent framework for realization of these goals,” he said.

 Cross-Border Coop

“Cross-country cooperation is the only mechanism by which we can stand against the threats and common public health concerns,” Hashemi added.

Stressing the need to overcome infectious diseases in the region, he remarked: “I strongly believe that with our continuous efforts for unifying the health ministries in G5 countries, such achievement won’t be far-fetched.”

Hashemi also suggested that the G5 countries’ health ministers introduce their official experts from relevant health ministry departments to be appointed for collaborating with the G5 secretariat.

“The experts can meet virtually or face-to-face every three months in one of the member countries,  to prepare the progress report and meeting agendas for the G5 health ministries, in line with the objectives of the World Health Summit and the Regional Committee,” he added.