Managing Acute Public Health Events: A World Health Organization Perspective

  • Catherine Smallwood
  • Andrew Smith
  • Nicolas Isla
  • Maurizio Barbeschi
Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series A: Chemistry and Biology book series (NAPSA)


The role of the World Health Organization in managing acute public health events relies on two principles. First of all, strong national public health systems that can maintain active surveillance of diseases and public health events; rapidly investigate detected events; report and assess public health risk; share information; and implement public health control measures. Second, an effective global system that supports disease control programmes to contain public health risks by assessing global trends on a continuous basis and preparing to respond to unexpected and internationally spreading events with a potential for international relevance.


Public Health System Public Health Risk Public Health Emergency Public Health Event International Health Regulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are, or have been affiliated with the World Health Organization. The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the decisions, policy or views of the World Health Organization.

The authors of this short paper wish to acknowledge and thank several reviewers upon whose work this paper is based. These include members of the Alert and Response Operations team, the Global Capacities, Alert and Response Department, and the Health Security and Environment Cluster, inter alia, Paul Cox, Patrick Drury, Angela Merianos, Bruce Plotkin, Faith McLellan and Cathy Roth.

References and Further Reading

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    International Air Transport Association (2011) Fact sheet: IATA, Geneva.
  3. 3.
    WHO (2001) A framework for global outbreak alert and response, Geneva.
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    WHO (2004) Globalization and infectious diseases: a review of the linkages. Social, Economic, and Behavioural Research. Special Topics No. 3, Geneva.
  5. 5.
    WHO (2005) Outbreak communication: Best practices for communicating with the public during an outbreak. Report of the WHO Expert Consultation on Outbreak Communications held in Singapore, 21–23 September 2004, Geneva.
  6. 6.
    WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (2006) SARS: How a global epidemic was stopped. WHO, ManilaGoogle Scholar
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    WHO (2006) Openness is key in fight against disease outbreaks. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. October 2006. vol 84(10). Geneva.
  8. 8.
    WHO (2007) A safer future: global public health security in the 21st century. The World Health Report 2007, Geneva.
  9. 9.
    WHO (2008a), Best practices for WHO epidemic alert and response, Geneva.
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    WHO (2008b) WHO event management for international public health security: operational procedures, Geneva.
  11. 11.
    WHO (2011) IHR core capacity monitoring framework: checklist and indicators for monitoring progress in the development of IHR core capacities in States Parties, February 2011, Geneva.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Smallwood
    • 1
  • Andrew Smith
    • 1
  • Nicolas Isla
    • 1
  • Maurizio Barbeschi
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Security and EnvironmentWorld Health OrganizationGenevaSwitzerland

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