During Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs), The International Health Regulations (IHR) require the WHO to issue Temporary Recommendations on the use of international travel and trade measures. During the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO’s initial recommendation against ‘any travel or trade restriction’ has been questioned, and virtually all countries subsequently used international travel measures. WHO’s Recommendations to States Parties also changed over the course of the pandemic. There is a need to understand how WHO’s treatment of this issue compared with other PHEICs and why States Parties’ actions diverged from WHO’s initial Recommendations. This first analysis of WHO’s Temporary Recommendations on international travel and trade measures during all seven PHEICs compares the guidance for clarity and consistency in several areas of substance and process. We find that lack of clarity and inconsistency in WHO guidance makes it difficult to interpret and relate back to IHR obligations. Based on this analysis, we offer recommendations to increase consistency and clarity of WHO’s guidance on this issue during global health emergencies.
School Authors: Catherine Z. Worsnop
Other Authors: Samual Nass, Karen Ann Grépin, Kelley Lee