Strengthening health security by implementing the International Health Regulations (2005)

Sustainable learning on International Health Regulations

Strengthening the competencies, including the knowledge and skills, of public health personnel is critical to the sustainment of public health surveillance and response at all levels of the health system and the effective implementation of the IHR.

WHO provides leadership and contributes to building the capacity of public health professionals working on the implementation of the IHR; it has fostered the development and offers a variety of learning solutions, including training activities, materials and tools, tailored to specific needs of public health workers and partner institutions.


Under the International Health Regulations (IHR), Member States have made a legally binding commitment to detect and report events that may constitute a potential public health emergency of international concern.

The availability of human resources with the appropriate mix of competencies, including knowledge and skills, constitutes an essential requirement for Member States to fulfil their obligations. Human resources have thus been defined as one of the eight core capacities that States Parties need to strengthen to achieve compliance with IHR requirements.

As part of an overall human resources strategy, Member States need to provide for a sustainable approach to the retention of public health personnel and the continuous development (lifelong learning) of knowledge and skills on IHR core capacities, including through the development and implementation of a workforce learning plan or strategy.

Workforce learning plans should help to highlight development requirements based on an analysis of the gaps existing between the knowledge and skills required to comply with IHR requirements and the knowledge and skills available in the workforce.

States Parties need also to develop a strategy to allocate specific programmes and budgets to address the learning needs related to IHR-relevant hazards.


Learning strategies and plans support, including through specific programmes, activities and tools, the sustainable development of relevant public health personnel knowledge and skills on IHR core capacities in Member States.

Focus Areas

  • IHR Learning Environment:
    • Access to a virtual learning environment, including self and guided instructional courses, web-based forums and seminars, use of social media where health workers can connect with one another using the latest technology available and share just-in-time information in an effort to resolve common challenges;
    • “face-to-face” activities where a premium is put on “hands-on” and practical approaches, moving learning from the classroom to the “operations’ theater”;
    • communities of practice where learning alumni are invited to continue their engagement and share their experiences.
  • IHR Curricula and Training Materials
    • Access and use a comprehensive IHR Training toolkit based on content developed for the IHR training implementation course;
    • Facilitate the adaptation of the IHR training course to specific regional needs and /or regional areas.
  • Support to Learning Programmes and Activities
    • Support to the implementation of IHR-related learning programmes and activities, ranging from the analysis of needs to evaluations.
  • Human Resources Development Plans and Strategies
    • Guidance to establish, review a strategic and sustainable approach to the development of human resources on IHR core capacities.

Resources and Information