Ebola, Zika and the International Health Regulations - implications for Port Health Preparedness.

Globalization and health

PubMedID: 27871327

Glynn RW, Boland M, HSE Port Health Groups, Ireland. Ebola, Zika and the International Health Regulations - implications for Port Health Preparedness. Global Health. 2016;12(1):74.
BACKGROUND
The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa in 2014-2015 was unprecedented in terms of its scale and consequence.  This, together with the emergence of Zika virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in 2016, has again highlighted the potential for disease to spread across international borders and provided an impetus for countries to review their Port Health preparedness. This report reviews the legislative framework and actions taken under this framework in advancing and improving Port Health preparedness in Ireland, in response to the declaration of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern for Ebola Virus Disease in August 2014.

FINDINGS
Infectious disease Shipping and Aircraft Regulations were brought into force in Ireland in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Preparatory actions taken under these and the International Health Regulations necessitated significant levels of cross disciplinary working with other organisations, both within and beyond traditional healthcare settings. Information packs on Ebola Virus Disease were prepared and distributed to airports, airlines, port authorities and shipping agents, and practical exercises were held at relevant sites. Agreements were put in place for contact tracing of passenger and crew on affected conveyances and protocols were established for the management of Medical Declarations of Health from ships coming from West Africa.

CONCLUSIONS
The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa resulted in significant strengthening of Ireland's Port Health preparedness, while also highlighting the extent to which preparedness requires ongoing and sustained commitment from all stakeholders, both nationally and internationally, in ensuring that countries are ready when the next threat presents at their borders.