Thank you for writing to me about the proposed changes to the International Health Regulations.
The International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) are a key part of the global health security system to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease.
The original International Sanitary Regulations, which preceded the International Health Regulations, were adopted in 1969 and amended several times: in 1973, in 1981, and in 2005. The third edition (2005) has been amended twice – in 2014 and 2022. The revisions of the regulations illustrate their fluid nature, adapting to the health challenges that the world faces at any given time. As medical knowledge evolves, so too must health regulations.
Regarding the current amendments, the Government is eager to ensure that UK’s obligations under the IHR remain fit for purpose and reflect the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic. Measures that the Government wish to see include a stronger global commitment to effective disease surveillance, early reporting of potential health threats, and transparency in sharing information.
I understand that the Government continues to formulate positions during ongoing textual negotiations and has engaged other World Health Organisation member states on the matter, including through the Working Group on Amendments to the IHR (2005).
I appreciate your concerns; however, the Government will not support any agreement which compromises the UK's sovereignty or ability to take decisions on national measures concerning public health.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking