Under the International Health Regulations (2005), Member States are required to designate a National IHR Focal Point (NFP) to be accessible at all times for communications with the World Health Organization (WHO) IHR Contact Point. The NFP has a duty to both assess events that may be Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs) and to notify them to WHO. The UK Government has designated Public Health England (PHE) as the UK's NFP and a joint protocol has been developed between the Department of Health and PHE for the assessment and reporting of PHEICs by the NFP.
The duty doctor system at PHE Colindale is generally the initial point of contact for public health professionals anywhere in UK territory wishing to report or discuss a potential PHEIC (+44 (0) 20 8200 4400) and the director of PHE Colindale is the individual with overall responsibility for the NFP function.
Under IHR, any case of smallpox, wild-type polio, new subtypes of human influenza or SARS must be reported immediately to the NFP who must then notify WHO. Any other event that might constitute a potential PHEIC must be reported immediately to the NFP who are then obliged to make an assessment within 48 hours. If the event is recommended to be reported as a PHEIC by the Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government then the NFP must report to WHO within 24 hours of the assessment.
Last reviewed: 17 April 2013