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There are financial and political challenges in ensuring the World Health Organization's (WHO) new International Health Regulations are implemented, says an editorial in The Lancet.

The new regulations come into force on 15 June and establish new practices and procedures to prevent national public-health emergencies, such as avian flu, from spreading internationally.

Member countries must nominate a national focal point to communicate with the WHO and give details of case definitions, laboratory results, the number of cases and deaths, and the conditions affecting the spread of disease.

The WHO will then decide whether the emergency is of international concern.

All 193 WHO member states have agreed to the regulations in principle.

But, says the editorial, many developing countries do not have the core capacity to meet the necessary surveillance, diagnostic and containment requirements. Possible mechanisms for financing these are not specified in the regulations.

Developing nations will need to rely on partnerships to improve their capacity to contain threats to global health, says the editorial.

Link to full article in The Lancet*

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