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).
This statement designates a public health crisis of potentially global reach.
As a legally binding international instrument on disease prevention, surveillance, control, and response adopted by 194 countries, a PHEIC was first issued in April 2009 when the H1N1 (or swine flu) pandemic was still in Phase Three.
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.
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. 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." This declaration was lifted on November 18, 2016.