A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is a formal declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO). The declaration is promulgated by that body's Emergency Committee operating under International Health Regulations (IHR).

Definition and impact

This statement designates a public health crisis of potentially global reach.


2009 swine flu declaration

As a legally binding international instrument on disease prevention, surveillance, control, and response adopted by 194 countries,[1] a PHEIC was first issued in April 2009 when the H1N1 (or swine flu) pandemic was still in Phase Three.[2][3]

2014 polio declaration

The second PHEIC was issued in May 2014 with the resurgence of polio after its near-eradication, deemed "an extraordinary event."[4][5]

2014 Ebola declaration

On Friday, August 8, 2014, the World Health Organization declared its third Public Health Emergency of International Concern in response to the outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa.

2016 Zika virus declaration

On Monday, February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared its fourth PHEIC in response to clusters of microcephaly and Guillain–Barré syndrome in the Americas, which at the time were suspected to be associated with the ongoing outbreak of Zika virus.[6] Later research and evidence bore out these concerns; in April, the WHO stated that "there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain–Barré syndrome."[7] This declaration was lifted on November 18, 2016.[8]


PHEIC can also make the news when it is not invoked, as is the case to date with MERS.[9][10]

See also


  1. ^ Renee Dopplick (29 April 2009). "Inside Justice Swine Flu: Legal Obligations and Consequences When the World Health Organization Declares a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern"". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  2. ^ Margaret Chan (25 April 2009). "WHO Swine influenza". World Health Organization. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  3. ^ "WHO Swine flu illness in the United States and Mexico – update 2". World Health Organization. 26 April 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  4. ^ "WHO WHO statement on the meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee concerning the international spread of wild poliovirus". World Health Organization. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  5. ^ Debora MacKenzie (5 May 2014). "Global emergency declared as polio cases surge – health – 05 May 2014 – New Scientist". New Scientist. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  6. ^ WHO Director-General summarizes the outcome of the Emergency Committee on Zika
  7. ^ "Zika Virus Microcephaly And Guillain–Barré Syndrome Situation Report" (PDF). World Health Organization. 7 April 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  8. ^ "Fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) regarding microcephaly, other neurological disorders and Zika virus". World Health Organization. WHO. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  9. ^ Robert Herriman (17 July 2013). "MERS does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC): Emergency committee – The Global Dispatc". The Global Dispatch. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  10. ^ David R Curry (20 July 2013). "WHO Statement: Second Meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee concerning MERS-CoV – PHEIC Conditions Not Met global vaccine ethics and policy". Center for Vaccine Ethics and Policy. Retrieved 2014-06-06.